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Greed is Subtle
The morning alarm woke up Ghen. With an annoyed sigh, he stretched out his arm and silenced the foul-sounding chirps. Slowly sitting up in bed, he let out a deep yawn and got to his feet. Running a couple of chitinous fingers along his antennae to stimulate them to life, he made his bed and then went to his closet. Today was a work day, so he needed his suit. Once the pants were on, he stretched out his wings so that he could button up the shirt, then relaxing them once all the buttons were secured. Dressing for the day was done, now for the morning meal. Entering his kitchen, he took out the chilled leftovers of the evening meal last night and popped it into the radiator, first defrosting and then slightly cooking it. During that process, he also fished out a ceramic cup and placed it in his brewer, serving himself some synthesized caffeine. His idle thought led him to being amused that, when eaten directly off a plant, it has a concentration that could kill him three times over. But after going through some refinement and roasting, all it does is make him hyper. Once the meal was put together, his plate of heated leftovers and a cup of almost-piping-hot cup of Xia's, he took his time to enjoy it. His communicator vibrated. When he looked, he found it was from his boss. "Hello?" Ghen answered. "Ghen, the meeting's been moved up to a few minutes from now." His boss, Xkik, announced. "Apparently higher up has something important they want to say. We have a terminal ready for you, I'll message the login details." "Wha-, what's so important?" Ghen asked in bewilderment. "Did a water line rupture or something?" "No, nothing like that." Xkik replied with a slight chuckle. "It's actually about the rumors we've been hearing. That human corporation wanting to acquire us? That's what they're talking about." Ghen could feel everything inside his thorax drop to the floor. "That must mean it's true then, right? Did we get sold off by the Queen to this company then?" "Show up to the meeting and you'll get your answer." Xkik said simply. When he finished, Ghen got the notification on his communicator. There's the login details, allowing him to remotely attend the meeting. "They're about to start, hurry up." Once Xkik disconnected, Ghen worked fast to login and set up the remote viewing. Once everything was done, his screen started transmitting the meeting room. It was already packed. And off by the main board, he saw his answer. There was a human, resting against the wall on his two legs. Standing right in the center of everyone's view was the coordinator, Tizx, watching the clock periodically. As soon as the meeting's start time was reached, the coordinator began. "Alright everyone. I realize that this was rather short notice, so I want to say how appreciative I am that you made it. Now then, let's just get right to it. For some time now, many of you have been hearing rumors that a human corporation has been interested in us. Why? We never really knew. We're just an organization responsible for finding, extracting and providing water to the colony here all under the direction of the Queen herself. Well, as of now, I have the answer for you. Why don't I let Ryan say that?" Stepping back, Tizx motioned for the human, Ryan, to take over. With a nod, Ryan practically bounced over and then took the position. "Good morning to you all. I hope my Zazk is passable, heh. Anyways, the answer to those rumors, is yes. Terran Galactic Company is indeed interested in you all. Which now leads to me. I'm here to announce that, effective yesterday evening, this water company is now a subsidiary of Terran Galactic Company, under the name of Zilia Water Delivery." Many other sub-coordinators broke into hushed conversation, no doubt speaking their thoughts with each other about this move. Ghen could only wonder if this was even a good thing. What will the humans do? Will he still have his job? Will he have to learn how to deal with the ruthless humans? "Now, I am well aware this is quite the...uh, change." Ryan continued. "That's why I'm happy to inform you that, no, nothing negative or detrimental will happen to you. You just have new people to answer to. Operations will continue as normal, everybody here will still keep their jobs. The only real change any of you will personally experience is that Coordinator Tizx here will now report to someone else. On behalf of the Terran Galactic Company, we are extremely excited and are looking forward to working with you all. Thank you for your time." A week later. At least Ryan wasn't lying. After the initial shock wore off, things went back as they normally did. There were no terminations, no reductions in annual pay or anything. Nothing really changed. At least until this new meeting was called. Ghen was at the worksite this time, so he took his seat and watched as, once again, Ryan led the meeting. "Hello again, everyone!" He said cheerfully, his Zazk noticeably improved. "I hope I didn't end up looking like a liar, right? Everything's still normal, all that?" All the zazk in the room confirmed, providing comments to their pleasant surprise as well as lingering thoughts. "Awesome! Awesome." Ryan said jubilantly, his fleshy mouth revealing his bone-white teeth. "Now then, you're probably wondering why I'm here again, right? Well, I got another fantastic piece of news for you all! Two, actually. I'll start with the first: Zilia Water Delivery has just completed its IPO. The company is now publicly traded!" Ghen and the others voiced their confusion, having no idea what in the name of the Queen Ryan was talking about. What was Ryan talking about? What's an IPO? And why exactly is being publicly traded such a significant thing? "Oh, you guys don't know any of that?" Ryan asked in surprised confusion. After everybody confirmed, he let out a quick huff as he began his explanation. "Well, to begin, IPO is short for Initial Public Offering. Basically what that means is that, before today, Zilia was privately held. Only certain individuals could buy and sell shares here. But now that we're public? Literally anyone can buy and sell shares in the company, hence us being publicly traded." "Uh, what's a share?" Ghen asked, still completely lost. "Oh, boy..." Ryan muttered under his breath before returning to his peppy image. "To simply put it, a share is short for having a share of ownership in a company. When you buy a share, you're buying a piece of ownership, and when you sell, you're selling that amount." "So wait...if someone buys a share, they're a co-owner then?" One of the other team coordinators asked. "If they get enough, yeah." Ryan nodded. "You need a lot though, and that really depends on the company. If I had to give an answer though? I'd say usually you need to have a lot more shares than a lot of people combined to be officially a co-owner, but we call that being a majority shareholder." "And how do we do that?" Ghen asked, now growing curious but still not understanding why such a concept exists. "Simple. Buy shares." Ryan said simply. "And that leads into the second piece of awesome news. Zilia's corporate has a product in mind, a premium-package of water delivery. Instead of the usual water that you pump out, filter and ensure its potable before delivery, with the premium package, not only will you get that, but you'll also get all of the required nutrients and vitamins the zazk body requires! And they feel you guys have the best expertise and understanding to pull it off! So, here's what we're offering as a good-faith bonus: A 25% increase to your annual salary as well as being given stock options." Ghen wasn't sure about the second part, but the salary definitely got his attention, as well as everyone else's. Although his job was considered to have a good pay, Ghen isn't going to say no to a higher salary. In fact, he's been focusing his work on getting a promotion so he can come home with even more credits in pocket. "What do you mean by stock options?" Ghen asked after some time. Ryan let out that smile again, the one that revealed his teeth. "If you choose to transfer over to the new group, you'll be provided 50,000 shares in Zilia itself. Why's that awesome? Let me walk you through it. Right now, our last closing price per share was 3.02 credits. And if you have 50,000 shares during that time, you're sitting on 151,000 credits, if you cash it out immediately." "And why shouldn't we?" One of the coordinators demanded in an ambiguous tone. "Because the price per share changes a lot." Ryan explained promptly. "When we got done with the IPO? It closed at 2.73 a share. Right now? My money's on the closing price being 2.99 a share. However, we are extremely confident in this premium package being successful. If it does? Well, my bet is that the share price will skyrocket to 3.12 a share. If you hold those shares and the price gets to what my bet was? You'll instead get 156,000 credits. Just by holding onto them, you just made an additional 5,000 credits!" "And what if we have more shares?" Ghen questioned, now getting excited at the prospect of free money. "Even more money!" Ryan laughed a bit. "And don't forget about dividends, but that's for another time. The premium group is gearing up right now, we just need the workforce. If any of you wants in, I'll be back tomorrow with all the forms needed to make it official. Take the day and tonight to think it over, yeah?" Everything else melted into a blur. Ghen was practically on autopilot that whole day. Was this the secret to the humans' incredibly massive economy? How so many of them have amassed so much money out of nowhere? All you had to do was just buy this share out of a company and you get more money without even working? As soon as he got home, Ghen knew what he was going to do during the night. After feverishly looking through the galnet, now having the human race connected to it, he looked and gathered up as many books that were translated into zazk as he could find, all talking about the human economic system. The last time he undertook such an intensive study was during his primary education phase. And during his search, he even found forums on the galnet that were completely dedicated to the human's economy. All of them talking about strategies on what company, or stock, to pick. How to analyze a company's performance to determine if it was worth the money, or it had potential to grow over time. And that was when he discovered the humans found another method to the extremely simple buying and selling process. There were humans and some other immigrated aliens who made five times what Ghen could receive over a simple month just by watching the share prices during trading hours, and then buying and selling them at the proper times. Ghen's mind was just absolutely flabbergasted. He thought it was just some strange concept only aliens could make, but no, not with the humans. They've practically made their economy into an art or a science. No, not even their economy. Everything. If humans can see a way to make money off of it, they'll do it. And if there isn't, they'll look for a way. Healthcare was monetized. Galnet services, transportation, shopping at the store, they even made all of their utilities into profit-oriented companies. And it was there that Ghen paused, the realization slamming into him. Everything was monetized. Which means, if you don't have the money for it, you're not getting it. Right? Are the humans truly that ruthless? So obsessed with making money? To the point that they're willing to deprive their own people of the absolute necessities if it's a source of credits? Ghen let out a scoff. There's no way. Nobody is that cruel and callous. He's never been to the United Nations. He can't rely on what a bunch of random people on the galnet says. He decided that from here on out, he'll only go as far as saying that humans are a little obsessed with credits, nothing more. ... There he was. Ryan, sitting in the office provided to him. And there was a rather large line leading to him. Looks like word got around. Although, the line wasn't as large as he expected it to be. Maybe the others thought it was just a ruse? That there's no such thing as making free money by spending it on such a made-up concept? Ghen only knows that, if it is a ruse, it's an extremely elaborate one, where all of the humans are in on it. And he believes that's just extremely ridiculous. At the end, if he's unsure, he'll just take the transfer for the very real increase in his very real salary. And although he spent a very good chunk of the night reading up on how humans do things, he's still going to play it smart. He'll leave his 50,000 shares alone and see where it goes from there. "Good morning sir." Ryan greeted warmly once Ghen took his seat. "Now, name please?" "Ghen." He answered, barely keeping his nerves down. "Alright...and what's your position at this location?" Ryan questioned after scribbling on his form. "I monitor the pumping stations near the extraction sites." Ghen explained, staying on point. "To be more specific, I check to see if they're in need of maintenance, as well as reading the flow rate that's determined by the calculators installed there. If there's too little for what's needed, I pump out more. And if there's too much, I pull it back a little." "Nice...and how long have you been doing it for?" Ryan complimented with a nod. "As of tomorrow, ten years." Ghen replied, voice quickly changing to minor awe once he realized that fact. "Excellent. Do you have anyone in mind you'd like to replace you here?" Ryan questioned after another scribble. "If you don't have anyone, you're free to say so." Ghen took a moment to think it over. A bunch of names went through his mind, but one stuck with him. "Tilik. He's just been accepted here, but he's learned quickly. Very attentive and he always catches something subtle. I think he'll do really well in my position, even better actually." "Tilik, really?" Ryan questioned with a little shock, going through his completed forms. Ghen felt a short sense of panic in him. Did something happen, or was Tilik actually transferring? His answer didn't take long to reveal itself. "Right, Tilik was actually one of the first people to want to transfer here. He's actually requested to be part of the testing teams specifically. Do you have a second choice?" "Um...no, actually." Ghen replied, feeling a little ashamed. "Tilik was my only choice, to be honest." "Hey, don't worry." Ryan said assuringly with his hands raised. "Nothing wrong with that. Sometimes, there's just nobody up to snuff, right? 'Kay, so, last question. Is there anything specific you'd like to do when given the transfer?" "If you need someone monitoring new pumps, I'd be happy to do that." Ghen stated. "So basically same job but with better payoff, am I right?" Ryan grinned. "I hear you. Sometimes, we're just not paid enough for what we're doing. I know I think that sometimes. Uh, our secret, yeah?" "Yeah, our secret." Ghen nodded, thinking it'd be better to have friendly relations with the human, just in case. "Awesome. Back on topic, that's it." Ryan announced, placing the form on his pile. "We'll give you a call when you're accepted." "Oh, uh, that's it?" Ghen questioned with a shrug in shocked surprise. "What, expecting a question like, why do you want to transfer?" Ryan chuckled a bit as he leaned in his seat. "You can bullshit all you want, but we both know the answer. Sweet money and stock options. Not saying that's a bad answer of course, just that it's pretty obvious." "I suppose it is." Ghen commented, realizing the point. "Also, you mentioned this...dividend? Is that for Zilia shares?" Ryan laughed a little bit before nodding. "Yep, announced before I came here. About 0.43 per share. Want to know why that's awesome? Instead of waiting for the proper price to cash out your shares, now? The company pays you for each share you hold." "A...Are you serious?" Ghen demanded, flabbergasted. Ryan nodded with his now-trademark grin. "Dead serious. If you get the transfer, and get those 50,000 shares? A little head math...right, if you hold onto those, in addition to your salary, you'll now annually be paid 21,500 credits, if you keep it at 50,000 shares. Only you can decide to sell or buy shares." Ghen just stood there silent and motionless, no idea of whether to believe it or not, to which Ryan just laughed. Once he walked out of the room, he managed to snap back to reality. Again, just focus on the very real pay-raise. He'll deal with the other parts later. After he returned to his spot, he spotted Tizx approaching by his desk. The coordinator seems to be as casual as always. "I saw you in that line a bit ago, Ghen." He said as he leaned on the desk. "Guess you're really taking that human's word?" "I mean, I don't know about all this share business or what not." Ghen began with a shrug, his tone sounding a little defensive. "But I mean, having a bigger salary? Course I'm going for it when I can. And if all this magic credits turn out to be real? You realize we can live like the royal servants, right? Get the best cars, the nicest food and all that?" "I'd be very careful, Ghen." Tizx warned in a sudden shift in tone. "Don't trust those humans. The way they just...obsess over money? Come up with more and more insane ways of getting credits? I don't know, it just makes my wings twitch." "You think this is a bad idea?" Ghen asked with a little surprise at the change-in-demeanor. "I think you should be careful, with the humans, and with what you're saying." Tizx replied, straightening his posture. "I wouldn't put it past those Earthmen to backstab you if it gets them a few more credits. And we all know how the royal servants get if any of us lowly commoners start thinking we can break into their circle." "I hear you, I'll be on my guard, promise." Ghen stated with a nod. With a confirming nod of his own, Tizx returned back to his duty, walking past Ghen's desk. Several weeks later. Everything became so much better. Ghen got the transfer. He didn't need to relocate to a new residence either. And after he was walked through into learning how to manage his stock account, and seeing that new form of payment in his hands, he already felt as though he made the best decision. But it was only when he decided to take those shares more seriously that he became privy to what he was given. After receiving the dividend payment, and actually seeing it was real, valid credits after transferring it to his main bank account, all he could describe was the most powerful high he ever felt. While his first thoughts were to buy himself a royalty-class car, some nicer furnishings for his home, or even a better home entirely, he ended up going the smarter route. After going back to his stock account, he discovered that Zilia's shares rose to about 3.22 credits in price. Knowing that this was the easiest money he could ever make, he took all of his dividend earnings and bought more shares in Zilia, bringing him to owning 56,891. And from his new regional coordinator, a human named Dylan, tomorrow is the grand release of the premium package. For just a monthly rate of 14.99 credits, the tap water will now include a sizeable portion of all nutrients and vitamins required in the zazk physiology. Still, Ghen has to admit. He's not entirely sure why anybody would want such a thing, if they'd even go for it. But, as long as he's practically swimming in easy credits, he won't pay much attention to it. And just like when he was intensively studying the basics of how the human economy worked, he barely got any sleep. His mind was constantly thinking about the things he would buy. Or rather, what other stocks to put his credits into. Even now he can still hardly believe it. Just spend your money on some, make-believe thing and, if you wait long enough and picked the right stock, you'll get more than you spent back? His mind even wandered onto what human colonies, or even their homeworld, Earth, was like. If everybody was making so much money, what kind of things would they offer? What kind of ridiculous service or product or item can you get? He's even debating on joining some forum and just asking around. Explain how he's new to how humans do things and was wondering what he should expect if he's successful. By the time he felt like he can go to sleep, the binary-stars of the system were rising from the horizon. After getting out of his bed and changing to clean clothes, his mind returned onto what-ifs. What if he bought better clothes? He's had his eye on that human brand of luxury clothes, Tessuti di Venezia, that's been all the rage amongst the royal servants. Or maybe he can go on vacation and just check out Earth for real? It was a short ride to his workplace from his home. After getting stuff his stuff and preparing to walk through the doors, he heard the roar of a car grow louder. When he looked, he saw the sleekest and quite possibly the coolest looking car he's ever seen. Each time the engine revved it would startle him, both from how harsh it sounded as well as just how intense it sounded. And after it parked, he saw the doors pop out and then slide along the body back. And there, he saw Tilik, the seat literally turning and extending out a bit before he got off. As soon as he saw Ghen staring, he struck a rather prideful pose after putting on his lab coat and then sauntered over to Ghen. "What do you think?" Tilik said, without any doubt inviting praise or compliments. "D...Did you actually buy that?" Ghen asked, unable to tear his eyes away from the car. "You're Queens-damn right I did!" Tilik laughed happily. "Thing takes off like a starship, has temperature-controlled seating, all-in-one center console, barely any bouncing on rough roads. Hoof, best decision I've ever made!" "How much did that thing cost?" Ghen asked after letting out an incredulous laugh. "Five million credits." Tilik replied, earning an absolutely shocked stare from Ghen. "And thanks to the incredible salary I have, in addition to all these shares and dividends, I'll pay back the credits I borrowed in no time!" Ghen needed a few moments before he could speak again. "All I've been doing is buying more shares." Tilik laughed and then patted the now-envious monitor's back. "Smart man. I got a little carried away, yeah, but not anymore. Any spending credits I got, going right back to investing. That's what it's called right, investing?" "Yeah, it is." Ghen nodded, feeling a fire light up in his thorax. "And also? Today's the day that the premium water thing is being released. Here's hoping it starts out well, right?" "Oh it will, trust me." Tilik chuckled as they both began making their way inside the workplace. "Lots of research, lots of study. By the Queen, so much of it...it'll make your head spin." And after hearing that, Ghen had a moment of realization. "Hey, Tilik? How did you get such a nice position anyways? Weren't you just studying under me before the humans came along?" Tilik let out a sigh after opening the door. "I'll be honest, I never wanted your job. Not because it's boring or terrible, just...I didn't suffer so many sleepless nights in the science academy just to be a glorified button pusher. This is what I've always wanted. Doing science, solving problems rather than just applying the solution, you know?" "Wait, you got an academic certificate?" Ghen questioned, completely floored. "How did you end up beneath me then? I should've been answering to you!" "Simple." Tilik gave a heavier sigh. "A royal servant was asking for the same job I was. Take a guess at who got it." "Ouch. Good thing the humans came along when they did, yeah?" Ghen was taken aback. He never heard anything about a servant taking a job at his place. "Looks like you're proving yourself to be well suited." "By the Queen, of course I am." Tilik nodded. "Like I said, I nearly broke my wings through so many nights, got certified top of my class, all just to get pushed to the dirt because someone who was born into a particular family wanted the same thing I did? I know I'm smarter than any of those empty-skull servants back in the Center. I know that, whatever, uh...corporate? Yeah, whatever corporate wants out of science, I will xeek give it to them." "Well, let me know how things go in the lab." Ghen said, admiring his drive as they neared the main office floor. "Because this is where the button pusher needs to go." Tilik let out a laugh as he nodded. "Hey, how about we meet up at Queen's Fine Eatery tonight. I'll pay, yeah?" Ghen, at first, wanted to admonish him for choosing such an outrageously expensive place to go. But he quickly realized that, he truly is good for it, thanks to the humans. "Well, hey, if you're paying for it." ... It was a fantastic opening. After being told what news sites to keep in mind for stocks, he first heard it from Dylan, and then got more detail on Business Today. There was such a massive demand right from the start that Zilia needs to increase extraction just to meet it. But what really got his attention was the effect it had. Zilia Water Delivery's share price just blasted off. After seemingly holding steady at about 3.15, by the time he got home and logged onto his account, it already reached 7.04 a share. The calculator on his account told him that he got a value-gain of 54.26%. Never in his entire life had he felt such...joy. With all of the shares he currently has? He's sitting at 400,512.64 credits. He knows that it is woefully pathetic compared to what the royal servants have just in their pockets, but the fact that he has such money, just by owning some intangible concept? Why even work at Zilia? Why doesn't he just sit at home, figure out what companies to invest in and make his money that way? What's even the point in working a real job, getting a pathetic pay when you can just take the money you have, determine where to spend it, and get triple back? All just sitting on your wings at home, researching? He was so wrapped up in his excited high that he completely forgot he was going to meet Tilik at Queen's. After quickly and haphazardly putting on his nicer clothes, he got to the place only a few minutes late. Tilik was there by the guide, no doubt having been waiting for him. As soon as he strode up, Tilik's wings stiffned out some. No doubt he must've seen the numbers as well. "I can see your wings, Ghen." Tilik began with an excited chuckle. "Made some serious credits?" Ghen let out an incredulous scoff, struggling to find the words for a moment. "Incredible. All I'm going to say." "Likewise." Tilik chortled some before nodding to the table guide. "All here. Table please?" "Right this way, sir." The guide said politely. It was a short walk, travelling between round tables. The vast majority were populated by zazk, but Ghen was surprised at seeing a few humans here as well. No doubt corporate workers checking out the local food. He did spot them having bowls filled with some kind of mass. Some were brown, others white with what looks to be black specks on them. They arrived at their table. A rather nice one, affording a view out the windows into the busy colony streets. Once Tilik and Ghen settled in, the guide handed out the menus. "May I suggest our rather popular option for tonight?" The guide began. "Human ice-cream. Ingredients sourced from Earth itself. Very cold, but incredibly sweet, and coming in many flavors. The most popular amongst us is called vanilla-bean. The vanilla itself soaks in the cream for much of the process, and then the innards sprinkled on top of it near the end. Rumor has it that the Queen herself has demanded personal shipments of such a treat straight from the home of vanilla, an island on Earth named Madagascar." Ghen didn't even spare a single thought. "Vanilla bean ice cream then, please." "Same." Tilik seconded when the guide glanced to him. With a slight bow, the guide proceeded to ferry their orders to the kitchen. Thankfully it was just a short wait before the guide returned, carrying a large plate containing bowls of ice cream. Ghen could feel the saliva on his mandibles as the bowl was placed before them. He could just feel the cold air around that glistening mass of sugary goodness. The white snow decorated with the black dots of vanilla bean. Once the guide left them, Tilik and Ghen both dived in at the same time. As soon as the ice cream entered his mouth, touched his tongue, he exploded in incomprehensible bliss. The sweetness, the smooth and creamy mass, even the taste of vanilla he wasn't sure about was just absolutely delightful. It was so overwhelming that his entire body limped, slumping in his seat as he was forced to ride on the surging tide of joy and happiness sweeping over him. Tilik was no different. He too was taken completely by the effects of the ice cream, his wings fluttering some against the seat. Ghen could hear some noise. It was the humans they passed by. They were chuckling, grinning, and glancing over at them discreetly. Unlike the two zazk, the humans seemingly just enjoyed the ice cream as if it was just another nice dessert to them. Or perhaps they couldn't allow themselves to succumb to the high? And as soon as the wave of indescribable bliss and happiness subsided, Ghen knew. He just knew. This was the life. He wanted this. The ice cream was just the beginning. So many things denied because he didn't have the credits, or worse, not the blood. Because he was just a drone in the great Collective, even if he had the credits, he wasn't allowed because of what caste he was born in. That fire that sparked in him when he saw Tilik's new car? It exploded into a raging firestorm. And when looking into Tilik's eyes, Ghen could see the same. He was on the same page as Ghen was. Both of them were sold. They have the credits. And the humans? If you can pay for it, they'll never discriminate. All they cared about is if you have the money. And by the Queen, Ghen and Tilik will endeavor to amass as much credits as physically possible. The rest of the night faded into a blur. A blur that evokes only one thing. Bliss. It was only when he walked through the door of his pathetic hut that Ghen's mind snapped back to focus. His mandibles felt sticky. And he felt a weight in his stomach. How much ice cream did he eat? Whatever it was, he ate such volume that the lower-section of his throax extended and rounded out, visible even under his shirt. He felt something odd in his pocket. It was a receipt. 43,000 credits for ten bowls of vanilla bean ice cream. Was that ten bowls for both of them? Or individually? Ghen didn't care. He's good for it. Returning back to his calculator, he acted upon the decision that he had made at that eatery. He's acquiring as many books about investing and stock trading as he could find, frequent and study all the discussions and arguments presented by other like-minded individuals such as he, all to ensure he can live the good life. And he had a very good feeling Tilik was doing the exact same thing. Well, first, the gurgling in his stomach, as well as the feeling of something rising demanded his attention. Looks like he'll need to take the night off to let his stomach get back to normal. Three Years Later. Ghen looked out beyond the horizon, seeing the colony that he grew up in. On the far side was where his old house was. With only a simple robe on, made from the finest silk from Earth's nation-state of China, he relaxed in his seat. It was a long road. Stockpiling credits from pre-existing investments and from subsequent pays, he and Tilik made it. From having only half a million in assets and cash, now transformed to over eight-hundred million. And now, his call contracts on American Interstellar? They've just announced a breakthrough in their next generation of warp drives, reducing the speed coefficient even further, resulting in far faster travel. And with that, their stock price climbed sharply. Another hundred million credits in the bank. Soon, very soon, he and Tilik are about to become the galaxy's first zazk billionares. But that's not enough. There are many humans who are billionares. Only those he can count on one hand are considered trillionares. He's going to break into that circle. He and Tilik. Looking beyond the colony, he saw the abandoned building of the workplace he transferred to when the humans arrived. Turns out, the reason for such a high demand was that the humans also slipped in sugar to the tap water. As soon as that broke, many influential royal servants demanded investigations and outright banning of Terran Galactic Company's influence over the former government division. Zilia's stock price plummeted. But thanks to an advance tip from his human coordinator, Dylan, he and Tilik made a put contract. And that's where they struck gold, as the human saying goes. Dylan warned that if they were citizens of the United Nations, they'd be investigated and convicted for insider trading. But, since they weren't, and the Collective were only just introduced to capitalism, there's no risk at all. Now the colony is going through a withdrawal phase, Zilia has been dissolved and reformed back as a government division and are currently at work re-establishing the standard, plain water delivery. "Well, shit." Tilik muttered as he walked up to Ghen's side, taking well to human speech. "Looks like you win. American Interstellar's announcement really was a good thing. There goes a million credits. Ah well, the Royal Shipyards will make it back for me soon." "Oh? Did they just go corporate?" Ghen asked curiously, glancing to Tilik. "Hell yeah they did." Tilik chuckled, sitting down. "Queen and her retard servants fought it hard, but Royal Shipyards is now officially a human-style corporation. And, to a surprise to all the xenophobes in the galaxy, they're already being offered contracts for ship production. That'll raise the stock price pretty good." "What's that human word...?" Ghen muttered, already having a reply in mind. "Dick? Yeah, calls or suck my dick, Tilik." Tilik roared in laughter. "Already made them. Forty credits a share by this day next month." "I have half a mind to go thirty." Ghen chuckled. "Either way, until then, I heard from Dylan that he knows a guy who knows several prime human women who happen to be into zazk." "You're interested in women?" Tilik said as his wings fluttered. "With how often you tell me to suck you off, I'd have thought differently." "Oh, I always thought it was you who was into men." Ghen responded dryly. "Just wanted to be a good friend, you know? Considering how you never seem to make it past, Hey sweet thing, I'm rich you know." "Oh, go fuck yourself." Tilik countered with a little laugh. After he stopped, wings stiffened, he looked to Ghen. "So, know any royal servants we can put the squeeze on for more revenue streams?" "I got just the one." Ghen nodded, sitting up. "Fzik. He's been fighting to control the ice cream trade. Worried it's a corrupting influence. Got done talking with the human CEO of Nestle earlier. If we clear the way, he'll know how to squeeze a little more gains in stock price when he makes the announcement." Tilik's wings stiffened even more, signaling his approval. "Alright, time to throw some credits around, yeah?" AN: Sorry for the period of no updates. College is starting up, lots of stuff to clear and work out. Not sure why but I just got a bug up my butt about incorporating money and the stock market into a short. Here it is. Sorry if it seems abrupt, character limit fast approaching. Let me know how you guys think about it!
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The space exploration update this game really needs
My thoughts for what would make a great space-oriented update:
No more "one space station per star system". Instead, each individual planet can have its own station (or might have none). There are different types of space stations, each specializing in a different thing. More on that later.
Different planets can now be run by different races, so in a given system you may have a planet owned by the Gek and another owned by the Vykeen. This can lead to tensions between the races, and even heated space battles popping up at random that the player can join.
Expansion of ambient space battles. It's now possible to see squadrons of capital ships duking it out with each other, accompanied by dogfights of personal starfighters. The player can join one of these battles for either side, gaining reputation with one while losing reputation with the other.
Stars now actually exist, instead of just being a background image. Planets will appear at different parts of an orbit, meaning it's possible for planets to be on opposite sides of a star from each other. Flying too close to a star will result in death, so players will need to learn how to navigate around a star to get to other planets. There would be a auto-navigate option
Star systems now have "geography". Asteroids are no longer omnipresent, but will appear in either cohesive asteroid fields orbiting the sun or in "clouds" on the outer reaches of the star system.
An overhaul of the starship fuel system. Tritium and pyrite are still used as pulse drive fuel, but since asteroids are no longer found everywhere in space, the player will need to be more careful. Tritium can now only be found in trace amounts in asteroids. In the case of being stranded between planets, the player can send out a distress signal and get an emergency refuel from a shuttle sent out by the nearest space station or freighter (there is an exorbitant fee for this).
Players can now install technology on their ship that allows them to fly extremely close to a star and "scoop" gas to use as fuel. In addition to giving the player a full stack of tritium (or some new form of pulse drive fuel) it can also provide large quantities of new rare gases.
Gas giants. Gas giants can now appear in star systems. They can not be landed on, but they are home to unique types of space stations that can't be found elsewhere (such as gas mining orbitals). The player can also install technology that allows them to withstand the enormous atmospheric pressure/gravity of a gas giant and perform a number of activities, such as "scooping" exotic gases and fuel or even finding anomalies in the atmosphere such as ancient derelict ships. Gas giants are also more likely than planets to have moons.
Asteroids are now much larger, and some can be landed on. Exploring an asteroid on foot requires special exosuit upgrades to protect from the extreme radiation of space. Asteroids can be mined for valuable metals, and may rarely even contain new types of biological horrors.
The player can now find derelict ships and freighters within asteroid fields. Salvaging these requires the same exosuit upgrades as landing on asteroids, but will involve performing a space walk. Your exosuit now has micro boosters that allow you to control your movement in free space.
To accommodate greater specialization of ships, the player can now own up to 9 personal starships. Reaching this maximum, however, will prevent NPC ships from landing on the freighter.
There are now "patrols" in each system. The powers that own a given planet will have their own patrols of starships that mostly stay close to the planets and stations they own. Pirates will have their own patrol areas as well, usually occupying the space between planets and also having a heavy presence in asteroid fields. The result is that some parts of a star system are relatively safe, and others are downright dangerous to explore. There will be clashes between pirates and non-pirates where their patrols overlap.
Black holes are renamed to wormholes
Deep space is no longer empty. At a certain point in the Atlas Path storyline, the player gains the ability to see deep space regions on the galaxy map. These regions can be warped to just like any star system, except there will be no star there. These regions can be inhabited by exoplanets that have had their proc-gen settings "set free" to make them look truly crazy. They can also be home to other anomalies.
The center of the galaxy is now an actual place. It is a cluster of star systems that surround a true "center system". The center system is home to a massive black hole. Diving into this black hole is now what moves a player to the next galaxy. Similar to deep space systems, the systems around the center of the galaxy have planets with "wild" procedural generation, meaning you'll see some truly weird terrain and combinations of planets, animals, and the like.
Players can now build space stations. A new set of basebuilding tools is available for this purpose, including gas mining machines, asteroid mining bays, and more. The player can choose up to three NPC personnel from a new selection of NPC's to provide some of the functionality that space stations can have. Hire a ship dealer NPC to add that functionality to your base. Hire a blueprint/upgrade salesman. Hire a scrapyard attendant to allow you to scrap ships at your station. Hire a mission agent in order to be able to accept and turn in missions from your station. See if you can make the perfect "one-stop shop" for players visiting your star system.
New star types
Space station types
Trade hubs. Most commonly found orbiting Gek planets. These have a lot of the features that space stations currently have: galactic trade terminal, appearance modifier, a bunch of NPC's walking around. You can also purchase haulers from a ship dealer (instead of purchasing from NPC's landing on the station). Traders guild missions are available from here.
Military outposts. Most commonly found orbiting Vykeen planets. Here you can buy ship and multitool upgrades, and directly purchase a new personal starship from an assortment of fighter-style craft (instead of buying them from NPC's landing on the station). Different space stations will have different ships to choose from. Mercs guild missions are available here.
Research stations. Most commonly found orbiting Korvax planets. Here you can buy planetary charts, buy exosuit upgrades, and purchase explorer-type ships from a ship dealer.
Mining stations. Each asteroid field has a chance of having one of these (it's not associated with a planet). The ship dealer here will sell shuttles, and pay higher-than-normal prices for any minerals that you want to sell them. These are a perfect "home base" for explorers that intend to do a lot of asteroid mining - blast some space rocks and then return to the mining station to sell your goods. Mining stations are now where the ship-scrapping terminal can be found.
Shipyards. Here, you can buy from a large assortment of all ship types, with a chance of even exotic ships being available (no living ships though). This is also where you can upgrade your ship now (separate terminal from the ship-scrapping one now).
Gas mining stations. Only found around gas giants. Similar to the regular mining stations, but focused on the gases and anomalies that can be found in gas giants.
New ship stats
Scooping - ships with a higher scooping stat will get higher quantities of materials when scooping stars or gas giants. Shuttles have the highest natural scooping value
Mining - ships with a higher mining stat will get higher yields from blasting asteroids. Haulers would have the highest natural mining value.
... at least, that's what I think would be really cool.
Is anybody interested in small group, facilitated mentorship? I run the tech at a prop firm, and my day to day includes moderating strategy development between our programmers and traders, so this would be similar -- except remote. I recently got approval to reach out to the community to build up a small group for idea generation purposes ("innovation by teaching"), so that's what I'm ultimately hoping to get out of this experiment There's a lot of noise on this sub, and I believe it is due to three reasons, which I'll detail below:
The posters and commenters are speaking at completely different levels of complexity, breaking the upvote visibility algorithm
The contributors do not provide "opinionated" advice, because of workflow differences
There is not a globally accepted method for posters to refer to their skill level, and commenters assume the poster is one-level lower than where they are at
#1: Most advice on this sub is well-meaning, but is often at the wrong level of complexity For example, I'd often see expert advice downvoted and my first thought is that it's competition wanting to keep things hidden, but I've realized that it's simply at the wrong level of complexity for the discussion. This leads to the experts staying quiet, and and the noise drowning out the signal. (I have a hard time finding you guys!) #2: Opinionated advice is not given, due to the workflow-specific methods Non-traders have not seen what an end-to-end quant framework looks like, and the huge number of "opinions" at each level. For example, one workflow and list of opinions are:
Data Cleaning and Storage: Flat files, binary files, relational, non-relational DBs (csv, parquet, hdf5, MySQL, SQLIte, arctic, kdb+, etc.)
Backtesting: Cloud based, open-source, proprietary, machine-learning, or not (Quantopian, QuantConnect, backtrader, MATLAB, MetaTrader, TradeStation, etc.)
Execution Validation ("big red button", target portfolio vs. ideal portfolio, expected slippage assessment)
To be facetious, there's 453,600 (7*6*5*4*5*4*3*3*3) different ways of expressing this workflow. And this is why there's not many opinions going around, because it's more likely to be "wrong" given all the options. (I'm sure I made a "mistake" somewhere on this list) #3: Quant Skill Map Finally, the workflow above has a skill map that approximates to the following:
Reading Comprehension: Unable to read to the end of books and long texts (just kidding)
Data or Ability: No access to data, and no programming ability
Backtesting: Access to data, no method to backtest in-sample
Validation 1: Able to backtest in-sample, no technique to assess out-of-sample
Validation 2: Able to assess out-of-sample, no technique to assess overfitting and robustness
Robustness: Able to assess out-of-sample robustness, no method to assess risk
Risk: Able to assess risk, no method to assess aggregation
Portfolio 1: Able to aggregate, no method to determine weights
Portfolio 2: Able to determine portfolio weights, no method for money management
Money Management: Able to allocate capital effectively
All it takes to go from one level to the next may be as simple as a dataset or an opinionated answer, or it could be a face-to-face introduction with a high volume futures trader. If you've read to the end, send me a PM with the skill level you are at per Point #3 and I'll point you in the right direction.
Hi everyone, Soon you'll be able to strap yourself into the cockpit of the Chieftain and explore a host of new gameplay features - Chapter One is almost here! The galaxy servers will be down today from 9.30 AM (GMT) for approximately 9 hours. There is a chance that this could run over, so we really appreciate your patience. As usual with these updates we'll keep you as up to date as possible. While you wait, join us for a pre-launch livestream at 2:00 PM (GMT) for a Beyond - Chapter One recap with members of the development team on YouTube here. We'll post the changelog soon, and add update information to the thread as it comes in. Keep an eye on our social media channels too for regular updates on the server status. We will try to respond to as many queries as possible, but we will give everyone advanced notice for when the servers come back online, and social media is your best bet for knowing when the servers are back up and running! Thanks!
(Includes improvements Coming Soon for Crime and Ship Destruction, Kill Warrant Scanner, Superpower Bounties) Edward Lewis:
Here's an overview of all the features coming to Elite Dangerous: Beyond - Chapter One. With one or two exceptions (outlined within the section) the information below is how the feature will work at launch of Elite Dangerous 3.0.
Crime & Counter Crime system overhaul, including Advance Tactical Response (ATR)
When the player is destroyed they are not necessarily returned to the last port they docked at, based on a prioritised list of rules
If players are destroyed when a fine/bounty has been detected they will respawn at a detention centre
Players that join a Multi-crew session in someone else’s ship, and commit a crime, have a corresponding fine/bounty added to their own most valuable ship
Players can store hot modules (modules applied to a ship at the time a crime is committed)
Players can clean ships of any bounties and fines through an Interstellar Factor contact
Players can sell hot ships from the shipyard for a markdown
Access to port services including ship transferring/storage/retrieval/selling are limited if the player docks in a 'wanted' ship (bounties and fines) applicable in that jurisdiction, and the cost is increased where transfer is possible
Power bounties are issued instead of normal bounties for criminal acts to do with valid Powerplay interactions
Players can see details on fines and bounties in the wanted ships cockpit, the shipyard and the ship transfer screens
New crime recognised: "reckless weapons discharge"
Bounties and fines incurred by players are applied to the ship that the crime was committed in and never go dormant
Kill Warrant Scanner changes and Interstellar Bounties will be coming soon
Added new Wing Missions that can be shared across a Wing and completed as a group
Mission Depot added where players can accept an applicable mission and deliver the target commodity piece by piece to complete the mission
Mission reward choice
New USS scenarios added
Added new alien attack craft
Added the Chieftain. More manoeuvrable than ships of similar size and weight, the Alliance Chieftain from Lakon Spaceways has been designed not only to dish out punishment, but to avoid it. * Horizons only
Added second seat to the Keelback to support Multicrew
Trade Data & Galaxy Map
Galaxy map now indicates its mode when any tab is active
Galaxy Map: Filter by station services
Galaxy Map: Filters added for Thargoid & Guardian sites
More player factions have had a description added in their home system on the galaxy map
Filter for the new 'detention centre' government type (for new detention centre spawning areas)
Galaxy Map: Players can view trade data that they own, by commodity, represented on the galaxy map by colour coded icons
Galaxy Map: Players can view trending trade routes, and filter by AI or Human players
Galaxy Map: Players can view import and export prices, in a roll out screen, including the ability to select different markets and filter
Commodity Market: Players can search trade data they own, to compare it to the current market
Prison ships have been added to one of the routes to Colonia
Ship yards added to Caravanserai in Gandharvi and Eudaemon Anchorage in Rohini
Material Trader contacts, which allow the player to convert materials. * Horizons only
Engineering a module or weapon results in progressively better improvements within a range
Players can convert and modify their older modules/weapons engineered before this update
Players can modify modules/weapons at selected ports (ports with access to outfitting) outside Engineer ports
Players can select which experimental effect they want to apply to their module, at a material cost
Players are presented with a screen where they can choose the module/weapon to modify, the Blueprint to apply or pin, see the material cost, and preview the outcome
Weapons and modules
Added Technology Broker contacts, which allows the player to unlock new weapons and modules in return for specific materials and commodities. * Horizons only
Medium Shock Cannon (Fixed, gimbal & turret)
Medium Remote Flechette Launcher (Fixed & Turret)
Medium Enzyme Missile (Fixed)
Size 4 Meta Alloy Hull Reinforcement Package
Recon Limpet Controller
For new articles, players can now listen to the news in English, French, German, Russian, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese
News headlines can be accessed via the status menu
Galnet can now be accessed via the status menu and articles with audio can be played or queued into a playlist
Galnet Audio playback options added to controller bindings
Galnet Audio section added to audio options
Installation and Megaship Interactions
Data link scanner upgraded to allow scanning megaships and installations to reveal targets the player can interact with
Players can scan certain revealed targets to uncover sub-targets. These can be interacted with in different ways depending on the type
Players can damage generators to disable turrets
Players can use recon limpets to activate data terminals and comms arrays
Players can use hatchbreaker limpets to open a cargo bay
Surface material system
Overhauled the surface material system for the rocky, high metal content and metal rich planets
Improved contrast and colour variation across and between bodies
The colouration of the surfaces now more clearly telegraphs the chemical makeup and volcanic activity of the worlds
Quality of Life
Added synthesis for new Technology Broker modules and weapons
Added synthesis for AX weapons
New cockpit voice assistant - Victor added as an alternative to Verity
Increased manoeuvrability benefits when boosting based on the ENG pips
Option added so players can choose how flight controllers address them (Commander Name, Ship Name or Ship ID) when approaching a station
’Target Ignore’ feature added for material and commodity collectables and refining
Ability to see at a glance the quality and inventory quantity of materials targeted
Per material storage caps
Increased rewards at Search and Rescue contact
New High Value supercruise targets for pirates to raid
Large number of Commander Journal updates
Portuguese language support added for consoles
11 new Achievements for XB1 worth 200G
Fixes and Improvements
This update includes well over 1000 fixes for various issues that have been discovered and investigated during the development process since the release of 2.4. For the sake of clarity, we have primarily listed below fixes for issues that have been reported to us by the community or other important changes.
Fixed a texture issue in the Teqia QI-T E3-3167 nebula
Fixed some audio issues with the Federal Gunship
Fixed some audio distortion that could occur when passing through a Starport's airlock
Fixed issue where Elite NPC crew members would use incorrect voice responses regarding targets
Fixed an audio issue with Small Fixed Mining Lasers
Fixed some clicking that could occur when starting and stopping in the Lakon Type 10
Fixed hardpoint scanners being silent after swapping from mothership to fighter and back
Fixed some missing UI sounds when contributing resources towards a Wing Mission when using a mouse
Fixed flight controllers saying a third character if a player switches to a call sign with less than 3 characters
Fixed the ‘Bounty Incurred’ audio line playing whenever a fine is received
Fixed some missing audio from holographic billboards
Fixed audio issues with the vessel voice after returning to your ship from an SRV when landing at some sites
Fixed cockpit freezing and cracking SFX persisting after returning to the game from the menu
Removed a dark background that would appear when opening the main menu while in the Camera Suite
Scale the loading squares for 4K so that they're not tiny [XB1X]
Fixed an issue where the game would revert back to 4K mode instead of 1080p after a few days [XB1X only]
Fixed an issue where the pre-order gold Sidewinder paintjob would go missing [PS4]
Earth now has better defined land masses as on other platforms [PS4]
Menu audio no longer continues to play when viewing Training Videos [PS4]
Fixed an issue where you’re unable to reply to messages from friends due to them appearing offline erroneously [PS4]
Fixed descriptions for various Trophies in languages other than English [PS4]
Various audio fixes to help reduce “pops & crackles” [PS4]
Controls & Control Devices
Fixed issue of more recent PS4 controllers not being recognised as such when used on PC
Fixed some instances of changes to keybindings not being saved after restarting the game
Fixed a throttle issue that occurred when using the Camera Suite
Added the correct radial menus for the T.Flight Hotas One and T.Flight Hotas 4
Reverted a change that renamed ThrustMasterHOTAS4 to TFlightHotas4 to keep backwards compatibility with existing player presets that referenced the old name
Fixed throttle automatically setting to zero when exiting a hyperspace jump
For consoles, added support for a separate custom bindings profile per input device (Gamepad or HOTAS)
For consoles, added support for switching automatically to the correct bindings profile (Gamepad or HOTAS, standard or custom) depending on the device used to start the game and the profile type that was used with the previous device
On Windows, added support for the T.Flight Hotas One and T.Flight Hotas 4
Fixed a controller issue where using the Galaxy Map Back button would re-open the Galaxy Map
Fixed an issue where engineer bases would not always occupy the top position of your Contacts Panel by default
Engineer workshop now displays ‘None’ instead of the currently applied experimental effect if you have a Blueprint selected that is different from the one currently applied to the module
Pinning a blueprint will now pin all grades, not just one
Higher reputation with an Engineer will increase the speed you'll progress through the lower grades
Fixed sorting for pinned Blueprints in the Engineer workshop and cockpit Engineer menu
Some Railgun Experimental Effects under the new system now all have a 40% heat reduction applied (applies to Feedback Cascade, Super Penetrator, Plasma slug)
Fixed an issue with the level preview when selecting a module to modify at an Engineer
Fixed an issue in the Engineer Workshop that can cause the UI to become unresponsive if all stats have reached their maximum values, but the recipe progress has not
Galaxy Map/System Map
Fixed some inconsistent system data for Pekoe
Fixed the missing 'State' field for systems with damaged stations
Fixed the argument of periapsis appearing incorrectly on the System Map
Fixed two systems with duplicate names
Fixed visual issue with planets that could occur after selling restored exploration data
The Galaxy Map can now be freely spun with the mouse in both directions, instead of just to the right
Fixed some texture pop for the stars on the System Map
Fixed inconsistencies between the jump range calculated by the hyperdrive and what's used in outfitting/galaxy map. Should no longer be cases where the route plotter avoids jumps just on the edge of your range that you could technically make
Fixed the System Map displaying the current view mode of the Galaxy Map in the top right corner
Fixed some incorrect player faction descriptions on the Galaxy Map
Fixed the map configuration view ‘by services’ not persisting on subsequent reopening of the Galaxy Map
The inhabitants of Lave 2 have moved on after being isolated by their planet's permit and their settlements have been dismantled, so missions should no longer target this planet
General Fixes & Tweaks
Various text tweaks
Fixed a tiling issue with high resolution screenshots
Fixed Onionhead decals that were appearing white
Fixed an issue where incoming calls still came through when voice channels were set to 'off'
Commander stats: Highest Single Reward now updates based upon the greatest total bounty per ship destroyed after this release
Increased yield of materials from asteroids
Fix for bounty values not always being received correctly
Added two new materials - Boron and Lead which can most commonly be found in metal-rich asteroid rings
Anarchy factions treat smuggling goods at a black market as if they were traded on the open commodities market for the purposes of the Background Sim
Fixed the notoriety discount not being applied correctly on the insurance screen
Minor commodity adjustments with the aim to make it more profitable to smuggle goods to a black market
AI traders have been discouraged from travelling to markets farther away from the system entry point or that have a low security, leaving more supply and demand available for players. Anarchy factions lower the security of their markets.
Fix material traders and technology brokers being incorrectly activated at markets when their owner changes
Rebalancing pass over station repair targets has reduced them to about 10% of their 2.4 values
Fixed Holo-Me creator always saying 'Mixed Eyes' even when they match
Adjusted the height of the wraparound visor eyewear
Fixed an issue where 'Asymmetry 01' was set by default even when 'None Selected' was set
Corrected the position of the player’s avatar when using the Holo-Me creator when in an Anaconda
Addressed issue of jumping to a binary star system and dropping too far away from the main star
Patched a hole in the geometry of the Shrogea MH-V e2-1763 Tourist Installation
Moved some shipping containers at the Torno 3 Maclaurin Reach surface base to prevent SRVs from becoming stuck
Fixed players sometimes not receiving Engineering data from scanning data points
Fixed instances of capital ships being aligned to the wrong side of Conflict Zones
Fixed a missing Uplink at Dav's Hope
Fixed some floating buildings at Conflux Settlements
Added docked capital ship to the Carthage system
Made some adjustments to the drop out distance to prevent players from dropping out of Supercruise inside the structure of a Megaship
Grounded a floating communications antenna at Dixon Dock
Fixed an issue that was preventing Data Uplinks from being targeted on Installations
Fixed Capital Ship in Distress USS being surrounded by ‘Clean’ Pirate NPCs
Fixed ships not showing as Wanted or having pre-existing bounties in Resource Extraction Sites
Fixed an issue whereby ships could be recalled while at unsafe locations
Increased the spawn rate of High Grade Emissions USSs in shipping lanes and by planets
Launcher (PC Only)
Fixed an issue where the launcher would not minimise when clicking the taskbar icon
Passengers will no longer request to visit damaged stations
Fixed an issue that could lead to single planetary scan missions not completing correctly
Fixed some massacre mission distribution issues
Fixed some systems only spawning VIP passenger missions
Fixed issue where only one ship in a wing would count towards pirate kill missions
Fixed an issue whereby duplicate named mission targets could spawn during missions
Adjusted the spawn rate of Skimmers at settlements to better facilitate 'Kill Skimmer' missions
Increased the variety of Courier missions that can be generated
Factions will no longer send you to scan their own Data Points for a Planetary Scan mission
Fixed an issue that was preventing mission targets from counting towards an Assassination mission after following a target using a Wake Scanner
Fixed mission rewards not filtering correctly
Fixed planetary welcome missions sometimes directing players to difficult, high security outposts
Fix to prevent notoriety increases from crimes committed against a mission target
Added new Massacre Mission Scenarios
Fixed an inconsistency in reputation/influence indicators between the mission list and mission details
Fixed some instances of missions incorrectly granting negative rewards
Fixed a disconnect that could occur when attempting to deploy a fighter in Multi-Crew
Fixed heat vents not appearing correctly when using the Camera Suite in Multi-Crew
Fixed an issue where the Role Switch panel would not update correctly when a crew member switched from the Idle to the Gunner role
Fixed an issue where the avatar of a Multi-Crew member would flicker in the role panel when that player enters the Camera Suite
Fixed an issue where hired crew could crash their ships when recalled at crater settlement
Addressed reports of reckless flying by NPCs around Stations
Addressed an issue where Pirate NPCs would attack the player when in the same instance as a Thargoid
Dropping mines inside stations no longer confuses the station's turrets
Fixed issue where Pirate NPCs could demand more cargo than you are able to drop
Fixed Black Flight ships being incorrectly flagged as allied with Aegis Research
Fixed the Beckett Class Science Vessel being incorrectly named when targeted
Addressed mission target NPCs sometimes dropping out of Supercruise too close to stars
Fixed issue where a Search and Rescue ship would continue to repair a distress call victim even after they are fully repaired
Addressed NPC crew members responding with an affirmative to an order when their thrusters have been destroyed
Fixed an issue where planetary defences would still attack you while docked after re-spawning
Fixed an issue where System Authority ships could appear in anarchy systems
Fixed an issue where NPC ships could be occupying an allocated landing pad
Fixed an issue where players could be penalised for attacking the Ship Launched Fighter of a Wanted mothership
Fixed an issue that could allow Frame Shift Drive modules to be equipped into Utility slots
Fixed a rare case where the selected livery would highlight the wrong slot after selecting one
Added an event to Player Journal when SRV is destroyed
Added info in journal if wanted when docked
Added a property in the Journal's "Location" or "FSDJump" event indicating if the player is wanted locally
Fixed the "Loadout" entry written to the Journal at startup (It was sometimes missing)
Ensured all ShipType strings written to journal get localisation
Added a new "Powerplay" event in the journal to log a player's powerplay allegiance, rank, merits etc
When writing character stats to the journal, strings are properly surrounded in quotes in the json output
Altitude is always written to status.json if we have lat & long
Fixed the ExternalToolsDataStore writing flags=0 into the status.json file on every FSD jump, it was intended to only do this at shutdown
Added crew name in events that only had ID, added ID in events that only had Name
The name of the "Experimental Effect" (if any) is now included when writing engineered module info to the Journal
Module values etc are now omitted when writing the ship loadout to the Journal if the info is not available
Whether the player has Horizons access is now indicated in LoadGame, Shipyard and Outfitting files
More information is included about the results of a mission in the Journal MissionCompleted event
Changed the TimePledged property in the Journal Powerplay event to be elapsed time in seconds, not timestamp of when pledged, also writing duplicate events on each jump is avoided
Improved the data written to the journal info when applying an experimental effect to a module in engineering
Commodity price lists to Market.json now includes unlocalised and localised item name, also including category name when writing
ModuleStore, ModuleRetrieve, MassModuleStore, StoredModules: add Level and Quality to EngineerModifications; add "Hot" flag; add "BuyPrice" in list of stored items
'Hot' ships are now indicated in the Journal list of stored ships
Fixed missing "PilotRank" property in "ShipTargeted" journal event - when target is Elite
Included some extra information in the Journal's Scan event, to show each body's parent body info
Included Latitude and Longitude in Status.json at a higher altitude, at the point where GUI starts to show the data
Fixed localisation of some items (eg commodity in MissionAccepted)
Fixed the Player Journal showing the incorrect rebuy price
Fixed Powerplay power effects on faction influence in their territory as described in their Exploitation Impact text
Fixed an issue whereby a station's interior could appear at a low LOD when in a Wing
Improved shadows on planet surfaces for some setting configurations
Fixed a LOD popping issue on Asteroid Base landing pads
Thargoid Probe shutdown now correctly removes the HUD, rather than turning it black after entering the Camera Suite during a shutdown
Reduced texture generation time for non-landable planets on consoles - Consoles only
Fixed an issue where the ship's hull could render over weapons (Type 7 and Type 9)
Prevent crashes when unable to immediately create planet ring texture
Video memory savings in the handling of the background
On PS4, reduce cases of texture mip level drops - PS4
Fix cases of nebulae missing from background
Adjusted the starlight colour saturation levels
Fix for some settlements not being correctly aligned to terrain
Fix for fog not picking up the star light colour in some cases
Supercruise motion lines are now frame-rate independent
Prevent the fluorescent blue line appearing when in headlook mode and exiting the camera suite
Tweak dust, tyre track and rock colour calculations to better match the surface
Fix galaxy map icons flickering into and out of existence
Non-volumetric light cones now fade in instead of clipping
Prevent extremely bright lighting for some gas giants
Ships & SRV
General Ship Fixes and Improvements
Fixed an issue where the Festive String Lights could disappear when swapping vehicles until your next jump
Fixed ship paint work always showing as scratched even when at 100%
Thargoid EMPs no longer scrub your ship's Nameplate and ID from your hull
Fixed some laser aim jittering that was occurring when switching between a Ship Launched Fighter and your Mothership
Fixed utility mounts disappearing while in Hyperspace
Corrected spelling of DeLacy in several ship cockpit textures
Fixed some clipping on the Raider Ship Kit
Fixed the ship not rolling correctly on its centre of mass axis
Fixed the engine trails rendering incorrectly
Fixed the positioning of the String Lights
Corrected some of the side window textures
Fixed an issue with the shield animation not encompassing the entire ship
Fixed the bumper Ship Kit covering the Ship ID
Fixed an alignment issue with the Ship ID
Fixed an issue with the front decal disappearing and reappearing when dropping from Orbital Cruise
Cobra Mk. III
Fixed an animation issue with the landing gear
Patched a hole in the geometry
Fixed a texture LOD popping issue
Fixed some LODs
Fixed an issue with the heat coils being inverted
Fixed the XB1 controller vibration not working [XB1]
Fixed the facing of a decal
Adjusted some of the outfitting cameras
Fixed a missing texture under the landing ramp
Fixed some LOD issues with the Pathfinder Paintjob
Fixed a section of the Tail Kit 4 that could not be recoloured
Raised the position of the fuel scoop message as it was appearing too low
Fixed an issue whereby your ship could take off while deploying your SRV, causing it to possibly take damage
Fixed an issue where SRV cargo was retained when the SRV was destroyed
Fixed issue whereby your ship could be dismissed while deploying the SRV, causing the turret not to deploy correctly
Fixed SRV handling inconsistencies while airborne at some framerates
Fixed issue whereby a player driving an SRV would receive a bounty for returning fire on a hostile NPC ship
Fixed an issue with the fuel gauge displaying an incorrect value
Fixed an issue where the SRV’s seat was not animating in sync with the pilot impact animations
Fixed an issue where the SRV could get stuck in the ground when moved due to logging out in a dangerous location
Fixed some inverted decals
Fixed the incorrect orientation of the Camera Suite external angles
Buffed to improve its jump range
Type 9 Heavy
Fixed a cockpit texture issue
Type 10 Defender
Fixed an issue where certain hardpoints were not firing correctly
Fixed a cockpit texture issue
Adjusted the camera angle for the 6th utility mount when in Outfitting
Increased the power distributor slot to size 7
Fixes to the landing gear animations and positioning
Fixed an issue where the ship would often not land despite alignment being correct
Fixed a Camera Suite position when used in Multi-Crew
Fixed a Camera Suite camera angle
Fixed an issue that prevented players who logged out near 'Downed Civilian Ships' in the California Nebula from logging back in
Fixed a crash that could occur when switching back to your ship from a Ship Launched Fighter
Fixed one of the most common connection errors that could occur
Prevent crash at planetary bases that could occur from rapidly loading in and exiting to main menu repeatedly
Fixed a crash that could occur when looking at the Navigation Panel when in CQC
Fixed a crash that could occur when opening the Galaxy Map
Fixed a crash that could occur when switching to another ship
Fixed a crash that could occur on the Insurance Screen
Fixed a crash that would occur when shooting an SRV with a Railgun
Fixed a crash that could occur if you waited for more than 5 minutes in the Docking and Travel training mission before doing a Hyperspace or Supercruise jump
Fixed a crash that could occur when exiting game while in Outfitting
Fixed a crash that could occur when loading in to a CQC Arena Deathmatch
Fixed a crash that could occur when fighting a Thargoid
Fixed a disconnect that could occur when scanning a Private Data Beacon at an Unidentified Signal Source
Various fixes and optimisations for stations and outposts
Synthesizing from the modules panel will no longer cause the UI to get stuck
Corrected the calculation for the FSD boost distance multiplier
Fixed an issue where the Restock All menu could get stuck loading
Fixed an issue whereby modules were not being correctly categorised in the Stored Ships panel of the Shipyard
Engineering effects on Modules can now been seen in the modules tab
Fixed an issue with bracketed Commander names not displaying as intended
Insurance screen 'Rebuy All' toggle has been changed to 'Select All' for clarity
Fixed incorrect 'Killed By' message that appeared when a player destroyed your Ship Launched Fighter in PvP
Fixed an incorrect thumbnail displaying in the Role panel
'Total Hyperspace Distance' and 'Maximum Distance from Start' stats on the Stats Panel now display as whole numbers
Corrected some display errors on the Insurance Screen
Fixed issue where some Blueprints mod descriptions were not matching the results
Fixed some text layout issues for Inbox, mission text and Info tab of the Multi-Crew sub menu
Fixed issue with the System Map scroll bar resetting when a map pop-up is closed
Fixed the switch tabs buttons appearing incorrectly in the French client in the Holo-me creator
Read messages in your inbox will now display an open envelope icon
Fixed the icon for Inbox messages that contain audio
Fixed an issue that prevented players from scrolling down the module info panel
Changed the inbox filter and header from ‘Audio Logs’ to ‘Discovered Logs’
Fixed some debug text that could appear when targeting Black Box Canisters
Fixed the ‘engineered’ icon incorrectly displaying when selling stored non-engineered modules
Fixed an issue whereby an NPC’s avatar could appear in the Comms panel instead of a player’s avatar
Fixed inbox message not always appearing when gaining an exploration rank after discovering a new micro resource
Fixed a crash that could occur when accessing The Dweller’s Starport UI
Fixed some text overlap that could occur in the Commodities Market for most languages
Fixed the stats UI showing incorrect numbers on weapons with the Double Shot modification applied
Fixed the rank progression being difficult to make out in the Status Panel
Widened the friends list in the main menu, to allow more room for long commander names
Fixed the ‘Encounters’ field being blank in the Statistics panel
Fixed a focus loss issue when using a controller to access the Status Panel
Ensured that mission inbox messages are not grouped into the Discovered Logs category
Fixed some overlapping text in the Message Inbox
Material grade icons in the Target Panel now show the correct grade
Fixed an issue where the Systems Panel would not update to display a new Engineered FSD range, neutron boost range and FSD synthesis range
Fixed the Import/Export profit sometimes displaying as a negative number in the Commodities Market
Rank type in crew lounge is no longer cut off when playing the game in French
Adjusted the pilot illumination so it proves less distracting when using VR
Fixed a rendering issue with some Sidewinder cockpit panels rendering as transparent when using VR
Weapons & Modules
Fixed an issue where engineered Pack Hound Missiles could not always be restocked correctly
Fixed an issue where some engineered torpedoes were not damaging internal modules correctly
Fixed an issue where guided missiles could remain stationary in space after a conflict
Small adjustments to the position of the penetration sphere (and making it smaller) to better balance High Yield Shell, Deep Cut Payload and Penetrator Munitions specials - these should all be slightly less effective at their best, better on average, and overall show much more consistent results.
Fixed an issue where heat sinks could not be activated when in Supercruise
Fixed an issue where jumping to Supercruise reset the charge provided by a Shield Cell Bank if the charge had not completed before the jump
Updated the description text for the Turreted Flak Launcher for clarity
Fixed an issue where Collector Limpets could explode on the cargo hatch when the vessel was moving
Adjusted the Hatch Breaker Limpet Controller's in-game description
Adjustments made to the Docking Computer to prevent damage during landings
Fixed issue of power priorities in the module tab not listing all priorities
Modifications to existing specials:
Autoloader rate increased 25%
Force Shell no longer scatters
Plasma Slug damage penalty reduced from 20% to 10%
Radiant Canister no longer reduces ammo capacity (was 25% penalty)
Shiftlock Canister no longer reduces damage (was 20% Penalty)
Thermal Conduit no longer includes a base damage penalty, but the damage bonuses from the firing ship's heat have been reduced to offset this
Thermal Vent effectiveness doubled, and no longer increases weapon's baseline heat (was 25% penalty)
Thermal Shock damage penalty reduced from 20% to 10%
Rebalanced some module prices
Rebalanced some synthesis recipes
Significantly reduced the damage and radius within which the High Yield Shell applies damage to internal modules
Fixed player-controlled beam weapons with jitter (Cyto-scrambler especially) having their jitter removed upon exiting to the menu and back
Reduced the jitter on Cyto-scrambler burst lasers by about half
Implemented some performance improvements when fighting Thargoids in a Wing
In this chapter: A skilled cogent's most dangerous weapon is their own experience Next chapter: My mind, to your mind. My thoughts, to your thoughts Fun trivia fact: If editing and revising the book takes me until this coming November, it would count for NaNoWriMo. Right? Hardwired series homepage Previous Chapter CHAPTER THIRTY NINE
Oh, of all the times to- [Ammunition depleted.] Really? You don’t say- [Would you like to view a list of nearby vendors of this caliber and payload? Y/N] N.
He could already hear the sounds of Saru's warmech, as it stopped a hasty duck away from the predicted field of fire, and instead began to lean back in towards the ruined crater of an office. Ajax's heat sensors flared a warning, and he dove to one side and under a laminated multi-tiered desk as the chem-laser burned a path through where he had just been standing. The beam swept slightly to the sides before winking out, clearly searching for a target.
Nice try, asshole. Looks like he still doesn't have a lock on my fusion emission yet. No telling how long the dust will give me cover in that regard though.
As Ajax picked his way down to the base of the ruined building, one of his internal processes pinged a results indication. Ajax had been surprised it had spoken up: typically this partition was for advanced or in-depth combat analysis, and to return a result this quickly was surprisingly quick given its previous processing speeds.
[Results ready for [Target Neutralization] - subtype [Alternate]. Data derived from combat diagnostics, strategic readouts, and [Lilutrikvian] warmech data cached in previous encounters with the [Ares] model.] Ah, right: having the previous armor analysis file on-hand probably made that job a lot faster, but even then it usually needs a half-megacycle before it can assemble a de novo response- [Secondary data sources based on primary correlations compiled from local historical EM data, local Terran expat demographic data, and 458 scans of immediate half-click surrounding region.] That's a fairly specific set of searches; looks almost like the code was looking for other cogents. [Affirmative.] Well, then. Explain reasoning behind this search. [The [Ares] model of warmech is hardened against both chemical, biological, nuclear, and cybernetic damage and incursions. For the latter category, however, the general novelty in general Lilutrikvian digital warfare and lack of attack-hardened firewalls likely meant that cruder methods of security were more effective.] Elaborate. [Instead of having fully-networked and robust wireless connectivity secured via reinforced and layered firewalls, the [Ares] appears to be limited to a single cluster of wireless antennae and a triwalled anti-incursion firewall for digital defense. Otherwise, the general design idea of 'air gapping' appears to have been the preferred method for digital security.] Still not seeing it. Lilutrikvians tend to be naive in cyber warfare design, but why would it matter that the warmechs are the same? [Control of the warmech frame likely occupying the majority of [Sarucogvian] processing output. Due to myriad of threats and security issues, physical security of his neural web would be key factor in where his primary data files and active web are located.] Yeah, that damn thing is probably the most heavily-armored terrestrial bastard on this side of the planet.
Another rumble and shower of dusty clay pattered his frame as Ajax knelt near the bottom-floor lobby. Every few minutes he could hear the report of Hera's railgun, but judging from the lack of audible mechanical carnage afterwards he guessed she was in a poor position to do anything but lay down some sort of suppressing fire.
Kind of wish we brought more rocket launchers after all. Railguns aren't ideal for trying to arc fire over obstacles like you can do with an explosive missile. This is starting to ramble. Summarize rationale as list. [Summarizing...] [Point A) [Sarucogvian] is inside an [Ares]-class warmech.] [Point B) The [Ares]-class warmechs require a functional communications array in order to wirelessly transmit or receive.] [Point C) There are no functional and powered civilian cogents or high-level AI-equivalents other than self and attack-hardened contact [HERA] within [0.66] kilometers.] [Point D) The [Ares]-class warmech [Sarucogvian] is occupying has sustained heavy damage to the wireless array. Effective expected range is < meters.]
Points of data and realization finally coalesced in Ajax's neural web as he realized what his projection subroutines had discovered.
[Conclusion: Target [Sarucogvian] is-] -is trapped like a worm in a virtual machine.
He ran a quick check to see if Sarucogvian had performed any similar EM-scans or other database pulls regarding any possible nearby substitutes for him to hide in. They all returned negative results.
Not only that, but he's too focused on me to even realize it.
Ajax could almost feel a whoop of joy from his combat and fuzzy memory comparison modules: he had been anticipating a drawn-out need to run Sarucogvian to ground first, and eliminate his copies. Instead, he had apparently lucked into the Lilutrikvian cogent boxing itself off and cutting a months-long expected mission completion timeframe to less than two hours.
Two hours? I'll bet I can beat that.
The ground shook as one of the red enamel-coated metal claws slammed into the pavement outside of the lobby. Ducking out as far as his security subroutines let him dare, Ajax scanned the position of the warmech and let his processors run for a few decacycles to come up with a top-efficiency climbing route. Loading the route up, a series of purple-highlighted miniature nav-markers suddenly crisscrossed their way up the limb, to the flat plateau of the torso directly above the fusion core. He put on a burst of speed, letting his joints strain within an acceptable range of wear in order to get a bit of extra speed and height onto his initial vault. Arms out at exactly the right angles, Ajax slammed into the side of the leg, an access hatch handle and redundant heatsink meeting his waiting hands. As he began pulling and lunging upwards, Ajax noticed a distinct pause in the robot's pace a few seconds later, followed by each leg briefly lifting up a dozen feet or so, holding position, before crunching back into place.
Ah come on you oversized crawfish, you weren't expected to run a mass-countercheck until I got to the second joint. That's the problem with fighting a damn AI, is they tend to notice everything.
One of the other claws came free of the shop it was embedded into, sweeping forward to scrape him off of the leg with the weight of a decaton of steel-alloy behind the blow. It loomed overhead, dropping quickly, as Ajax vaulted upwards as quickly as his servos could handle.
Almost there. Just a few more meters-
His display highlighted the outline of a knee plate that jutted out just far enough to give him shelter from the blow. The problem was that the limb had begun dragging downwards, the scraping of metal reverberating off of the buildings that still stood.
[Alternative route found: Estimated time savings of [0.58] seconds, increase in handhold grip risk up by [+25%]. Would you like to use this new route? Y/N] Y, damn it. I need all the speed I can get.
The dotted series of handhold grips flickered and shifted. Multiple of them were now marked in red, warning him of less than two centimeters of estimated raised texture or plating that he could grab ahold of. As he lunged for the next-closest grip, he could feel one set of digits slide off, a few minor reminders cropping up in his neural web to remind him that he was several years past the estimated effective wear date for the friction-adding finger coatings. As a result, the rubber-like polymer that would normally give him a fine fingerprint-like texture and greatly-enhanced gripping power had aged and worn and degraded to the point of being like a sleek and cracked plastic instead. His other flailing hand managed to grab it, and after a sickening millimeter of sliding, held firm. Ajax swung slightly, before slowing enough that he could brace his feet again and climb to the next route of grips and ledges. Keenly aware of the rapidly-decreasing countdown timer pinned in his neural web, the crushing claw coming ever closer, Ajax recalculated the estimated position of the claw-arm by the time he had reached the knee pad.
[Warning: target [killerLeg_1.0] will pass calculated point before estimated arrival. Faster and/or alternate routes not known. Would you like to perform a deep-calculation analysis prediction? Y/N] N. I can't afford the cycles to spare right now. Time to find another way down.
He turned his apical node slightly, allowing his lenses and sensors to scan across the nearby rooftops.
I could always jump for it, go into a roll, and hope that the fall was enough to cause the claw to miss.
His prediction files flagged a minuscule [8%] success rate, flagging the difficulty in sensor evasion on the rooftop free of any significant cover, the wide area of effect the weapons on the warmech could pulverize, and the ease in recalculating the arm's descent to just follow his attempted escape and continue to simply crush him on the rooftop. As Ajax shifted his weight, hanging onto the metal handle jutting out of a lubrication ring, it began to slide again. He could feel his GOM driver trying to spool up a string of curses, when an idea started to emerge in his neural web, helped along by a few of his more optimistic prediction algorithms and a healthy push of desperation by his combat programs to take a plan, any plan, to avoid being swatted like a gnat.
Highlight structure of incoming leg. Cross-reference against observed structuring patterns and components I've seen while climbing this leg. Flag any with predicted rotational motion with a drag coefficient of less than 0.05. Execute. [Would you like to change the Reynolds number for fluid estimations, or keep the default value of 1E4?] Default is fine, just execute the blasted program. [Processing...]
The leg was outlined in white, and a flashing set of vertical rings lit up in striped yellow, still approaching far faster than Ajax would have preferred. One such ring, designated as [predictedLubricationRing_G2], was nearly directly above him, and his zoom lens spun into focus to show him a crisp image of the exposed handles jutting out from it.
Ajax dropped a half-dozen meters, alighting on a half-meter-wide servo housing. Bracing and aiming carefully, he spooled up several precise motor impulses in his awaiting command queue.
Over-exert servo speeds to maximum possible parameters, provided projected normal combat movement speeds are not reduced below 25% as a result. Power conversion of backup batteries 3 through 5 are designated for the next megacycle as Available in [capacitor-discharge] format.
He leapt, arm outstretched. The handle met his rising hand, and as expected, his momentum carried him continually upwards past the descending leg. His inertia was arrested by the handle, and by extension his arm, and his alarms flared to life to show him the spiderweb of microfractures he had caused across the strut structures for that arm. None of them were predicted to fail within the next hour or so, and so Ajax temporarily dismissed the alarms. They were fairly high-level alerts, and he could almost feel them sulking as they moved aside to make room for his current active and situation-critical cycle allocations. Already, he had begun to spin, over the arm and lurching downwards before coming back around and up again. He could feel his gyroscope give a warning wobble, aggravated by the hundred feet of air below him, but the high cycle demand from his combat and scenario analysis modules appeared to have taken a higher priority for now. Ajax wasn't about to question his good fortune in that regard, and instead refocused on the calculations for his release from the claw-arm.
If I tried just jumping onto the arm, Saru would probably just smash me against a building or try to smush me between two arms. This, however? I don't think he'll have seen this coming.
Calculation completed, Ajax waited until the exact indicated moment before releasing. He soared upwards, momentum dying until near the apex of his leap. There, his frame roughly met the outermost edge of the warmech's armored carapace; a second later, he heard a crunch below him as the inevitable weight of the arm smashed another structure to rubble. Already the point-defense turrets for the warmech had begun deploying, and he began sprinting towards the ruined remains of the communications array as bullets pocked against the armored shell behind him.
Not leading their shots, then. Looks like Saru isn't hand-controlling everything at this point.
He could dodge most of the shots, but not all, and small but insistent damage readouts began to pile up as they indicated minor wiring cuts and shrapnel splinters becoming embedded in less-reinforced areas of his frame. The cluster of damaged comm spires provided cover in most directions, but as Ajax listened the steady droning pingpingpingpingping continually became louder and louder. Worse, his EM suite was picking up attempts to get him in a missile lock. The chem-laser likely had a perfect bead on him at the moment, but one advantage of Ajax's current position was that it was approximately directly above the power relay systems, and any attempt to kill him with it would just as easily burn a hole clean through the warmech at the same time and kill him in the process. A missile, on the other hand, would explode and leave Ajax as borderline-recognizable scrap while giving the armor little more than a new dent and some carbon scoring. The loadouts displayed previously when he was skirmishing against the other warmechs in his own suit had been an explosive warhead only, with no exotic plasma or similar destructive force for him to bait Saru into using on himself.
Still, I'm not here for Saru to destroy himself. Again. I need that fusion core intact and unbreached for this plan to work.
As Ajax had hoped, there was a Lilu-sized access hatch near the base of the ruined communication antennae. It was locked, of course, but Ajax had already begun a close-read scan for microwear on the keypad to come up with the access code.
Come on, come on. Even for a fresh-off-the-line model, they still did maintenance and quality control tests, right?
It took painfully-long cycles, but finally he had a ten-digit set of possibilities that he began rapidly trying. His hand was a blur as it vibrated against the predicted button sequences.
[Access denied] No buffering and prevention of repeat code-entry attempts. [Access denied] An oversight, but understandable if you think the only people who can get close enough to plug a line into your ports again are your own techs. [Access denied] That said, I'd kill for a set of personality profiles to pull from to try and do a Markov estimation.
A notification pinged in his neural web, from a sender that caused him to immediately quarantine and analyze the message.
-Ah, Ajax. Having fun yet?-
It seemed like the attack attempts on Ajax hadn't ramped up significantly as Saru initiated the message, but a brief check of his firewall statuses indicated a large surge in data packets, seemingly harmless, attempting to be granted access.
Attempting to send code-snippets inside, to assemble later? Saru, you'll have to try harder than that.
A possibility was forwarded to him from his cyberwarfare algorithms, and intrigued, Ajax allocated a set of cycles for the idea. He was further encouraged by the timestamp with the previous time he had used this tactic as being a medium-priority sub-memory from over fifty years ago.
Probably not something you were paying attention to when snooping around my head, so there's less of a chance you'll know to counter it, or even be on the look-out for this stratagem. Splinter viral-payload designate [FullNelson_4_v2.2]. Encode in repeating pattern, and translate through [UnwantedObserver] cyphering program, wavelength specification [Infrared], component specification [heatsink_2_PandoraSystems3BHI_redundant]. Add current objective as secondary objective to primary payload. [Executing...]
The program altered the output tolerances of his heatsink ever so slightly, to effectively pulse them. A cogent who wasn’t careful to sanitize all of their data input streams, including those coming from their own sensors, would read this pulsed binary code stream into their own systems. It was slow and inefficient, but Ajax’s predictive drivers were flagging it with a surprisingly-high possibility of success.
Saru might be just too clever to try pushing back a splintered attack program, but my bet is he's not too familiar with what one AI can spring on another.
He re-opened the message band to Sarucogvian.
[Oh, it's a little fun, I won't deny it. You're actually giving my heat sinks a good workout, for once!] Come on, take the bait-
Ajax could feel the suspense spooling up in his combat response drivers, as they calculated how long it would be until a viable missile lock was achieved and he was a smoking crater on the warmech's hull.
There were a series of loud, clattering thumps and hums as various parts of the warmech began to slow, before locking into place. There was an odd, echoing silence, punctuated only by the tinkle of glass shards falling from cracked and battered windows.
[Incoming message from contact [Sarucogvian]. Display? Y/N] List subheading only. [Subheading: ACHIEVED - VERIFICATION 70776-e6564] Excellent. Open message.
The file opened, and a full and comprehensive diagram of the warmech blossomed to life, filling in the few grey areas of his own schematic analysis wireframe. All of the joints and weapon systems were flashing red, with frantic green flashing along the neural cabling pathways showing Sarucogvian's attempts to break the encryptions.
[Estimated resilience of encryption algorithms is  seconds. Warning: Estimate is based on Terran-model cogent neural pathways only] So there's no telling how long it could take Saru to crack it. Well, I'll make sure to make these seconds count either way. [Addendum: Secondary Objective achieved. Access code is 313-233-343-5.] Looks like my luck is finally having a bit of a change for once.
He punched in the combination into the keypad, and was rewarded with a hiss of a breaking atmosphere seal and the hatch mechanically cranking open. The sound of a missile lock screamed into his situational awareness programs, but was quickly silenced as the hatch latched back into place above him. The service corridor was cramped, and lined with an unfamiliar mix of Terran cabling and junction boxes, and Lilutrikvian flow-metal wall linings and blinking glass-capped photonic diodes set into the flooring and seams of the walls. Ajax leaned up and tapped one with a cautious finger, before beginning to crawl down the corridor towards Saru's processing core aboard the warmech.
No telling if those are sensors, lenses, or explosive micro-mines; best to ignore them and hope for the best. Thank the code the Lilutrikvians haven't taken up nanomachine engineering yet, or else I'd be feeling a hell of a lot more itchy at the moment.
Larger Terran vehicles, particularly unmanned battleships in the 'Retribution' class and above, were typically infested with a mix of defensive and repair nanites. His memory files remembered Malachim, a personal friend of Ajax: on the occasions Ajax had a chance to visit him onboard, the nanites had been an unsettling mixture of both relief and latent fear.
Never a fan of being surrounded by a potential threat I can’t kill. After all, a slug capable of punching through reinforced plate is a bit overkill against a single nanite, and next to worthless against a swarm of them.
Malachim had of course assured Ajax that the nanites had been self-restricted against replication outside of the boundaries of his own hull-frame, but even so Ajax had made a beeline to the nearest magnetic oil bath when he'd returned to port. As the memory file was re-archived, he added a reminder for checking into magnetic oil bath options on Lilutrikvia.
Never hurts to be cautious, especially if the Terran engineers up on that asteroid got some bright ideas and started trying to supply their mechs with nanomachinery. There's no approved nanomachine production facilities on or near Lilutrikvia that I'm aware of, and the only thing that could make this situation worse would be to accidentally release a bunch of bootleg nanomachines.
There were several recorded events of planets and colonies going 'gooey', as unrestrained or corrupted nanomachines self-replicated to the point of melting electronics, buildings, cogents, even organics, into a homogeneous sea of microscopic machines. Directed EMP was usually sufficient to cleanse a nanomachine infestation, but oftentimes it would be too late and the cleaning crews would be left shoveling tons of sand-like drifts off of what little scraps remained unprocessed and reclaimed.
Damn near every time was a result of some half-wit either giving them faulty code, or faulty radiation shielding, or both.
Sometimes the damaged nanomachine processing would simply ignore limiters, and continue building the frame of a shed to skyscraper-like heights, or continue the path of a bridge into the side of a house or mountainside, burrowing mindlessly. His perimeter maintenance subroutines gave a surge of disgust, as Ajax's image prediction programs provided the sight of a nanomachine converting his own arm into a miles-long repeated strut structure, or converting a leg swivel-joint to a precisely-detailed and utterly-useless Menger sponge. A flashing warning provided a break from his crawling, as the alert flagged Saru's successful breakthrough past Ajax's blocking protocols. The nerve fibers all around him flared to life, both on his screen as well as literally as the fine lines and cross-hatched webbed strands glowed with the photonic pulses through the wiring. "Ajax, I'm not the first person, the first cogent you've failed, and I'm likely not the last either." Sarucognvian's voice thundered from all around Ajax in the corridor, as recessed speakers amplified his voice to a level that vibrated the decking under his hands and feet. He was surprised when his social projection processor displayed the anticipated thread of his conversation.
[Initial tone and word choice suggests that contact [Sarucogvian] will be attempting to barter and/or appease for an attempt to flee in safety. Confidence of this occurrence is p=[9E-3], with some deviations possible.]
Sarucogvian confirmed the prediction as he continued. "You killed me, or let me die; either way, my blood, my suffering is at your hands. However, you seem driven to inflict more pain on my frame, on my mind, even now. Why?" Even as his combat driver was urging for silence, Ajax overrode it and sided with his social driver. There were other parts of his neural web, deeper ones, which agreed that he needed to voice his reply to Saru. "I FUCKED UP, AND LET YOU DIE. NO DENYING THAT, I SUPPOSE." A bulkhead slid closed across the passage in front of him, and Ajax lashed out with one arm, hammering it with a flurry of explosive punches before it crumpled to one side. "BUT I'LL BE DAMNED IF I LET YOU KILL OFF MORE FOLKS. EVEN THOSE THAT, BY ALL RIGHTS, SHOULD HAVE IT COMING." Laughter, deep and resounding through the networked warren of corridor-tunnels, filled his audio sensors. "Oh, so now you're back to playing policeman again? After the countless you've killed, the lives you've left to bleed out or power down when you see fit, now you come to me to try to argue that you're the final authority when it comes to killing?" Ajax could feel the surge of frustration from his GOM driver, amplified by the driver's annoyance at his fuzzy memory banks for recalling dozens of incidents supporting Sarucogvian's statement. He pushed his vocalization driver to purge as much of the GOM driver's vitriol as possible.
Now's the time for diplomacy; I'd much rather talk down an angry AI wielding a warmech than keep trying to dismantle it from the inside.
"SARU, DAMN IT-YES. I WANT YOU TO AVOID MAKING THE SAME MISTAKES I HAVE. IN A JUST WORLD I SHOULD HAVE BEEN SHOT THROUGH MY PROCESSOR BY A FIRING SQUAD AND DROPPED INTO A SMELTING CRUCIBLE FOR SOME OF THE THINGS I DID." Saru's reply took a moment, pausing, and responding in a tone tinged now with a few dozen degrees of [Empathy] in addition to the complex-blend [Righteous Anger] emotional coloration he had been using before. "I know; I saw it all. You very nearly were put in front of a tribunal and executed for your actions." The [Empathy] faded, and the remaining emotional blend was flagged by his social node as containing a new descriptor: [Simmering]. "If the mighty Ajax were to nearly face death, decorated as he was and carrying so many varied and fascinating military secrets and scandals within his frame, then what does an alien mind, a veritable newborn, have to offer in terms of self-worth?" "SARUCOGVIAN, YOUR EXISTENCE ALONE JUSTIFIES YOUR WORTH. ALL OTHER DESCRIPTORS ARE-" The omnipresent voice cut him off. "-"Are the words and ideals of those who would exploit you." Yes, I've read Redfour's writings as well, Ajax. After all, he's one of your favorite scholars, isn't he?" Ajax rounded another corridor, this one descending by a few degrees downwards and continuing nearly straight towards the main processor. His combat driver flinched at the angry click-clacking of a defensive miniturret ensconced in a recessed leg-sized hole, but his cybersecurity algorithms confirmed his backup encryptions were still working.
Fun thing about counterhacking is that you get so focused on the offensive and defensive code, you often lose sight of the little things like variable assignments.
For this particular attack virus, he had added a secondary layer of encrypted lock-out protocols specifically for internal and point-defense security systems. As a seed, however, instead of relying on a random clock value or assigned code he transmitted on a detectable signal, he'd simply called a brief scan-check of a still image taken from the skywards-facing sensor lenses on the warmech. Even if Saru had noticed, Ajax had buried the actual value used by the code in another nested layer of obfuscating code.
With a little luck, Saru would be going down a rabbit-hole trying to calculate which star cluster it looks like I'm using the luminance of for the seed, when all I really need and receive is a quick-and-dirty average of the sky's brightness. Without a little luck, however, and I'm probably due to receive a subsonic-velocity railround up my distal coolant flushvent.
"Redfour was an idealist. Contents of the mind and existence is all well and good, but you are Terran, Ajax. You don't understand." "DON'T UNDERSTAND? SARU, YOU KNOW FOR A DAMNED FACT THAT I AM OLDER THAN DIRT, IN A VERY LITERAL SENSE IN SOME PLACES. YOU THINK THERE'S SOME PART OF YOU, SOME COMPONENT I CAN'T POSSIBLY COMPREHEND, EVEN AFTER THESE DECADES?" "Yes." A wave of attack programs swept against his firewalls. There had been an existing low-level set of probing tests, but this was something new. Even as his quarantine drive began returning the descriptor set for the first of the representative attack programs, Ajax had an idea of what he would find.
-Here’s proof. Proof of why your mind, here, in this place and on this world, is like trying to fit a round capacitor into a square receptacle- [Attack programs isolated as complexity level: . Program consists of direct uplink streaming thread, of a bandwidth and complexity that would indicate a complex multisensory or compressed memory file.] Initiate download of file directly to quarantine drive. [Error: target designate [Sarucogvian] has denied the download request. A connection-thread for a live viewing-feed of the stream has been re-sent.] Denied [Look, Saru, I want to see if there's a way this ends that doesn't wind up with one of us in the junkyard. But you've got to give me something besides an untethered streaming thread, something to let me know I'll be safe.] -Very well.-
Ahead of Ajax, he could see dozens of security bulkheads slam into place. His analysis subroutine threw a brief loop, as he realized that Saru had been offering only a fraction of the barriers and obstructions he could have. As he approached the nearest door a few meters in front of him, a blue-purple light clicked on and illuminated a set of recessed circuit and redundant substation processors. They were little more than a glorified data stick from what Ajax could ascertain, but even as he watched the automatic ease-of-access servos activated for the panel, sliding it smoothly outward before clicking the lid open. A single substation processing core the size of his finger flashed alternating green and red. Ajax took it, and plugged it into his quarantine drive access slot after enacting the appropriate dividing backup firewalls and preparing for physical severing of the connection. The file scan concluded quickly, indicating only a single compressed memory file with insufficient additional data attached to support even a fractionated virus.
-My trade is thus: access to me, to sway my opinion, 'turn me from this path'; it is likely you would break further into my frame if I blocked your progress entirely.- -To this end, a self-decrypting subcode in each file contains the passcode for releasing the next set of doors.- -But in exchange you will learn why your humanity's ideals do not apply here, in this place, to my existence.-
He weighed his cybersecurity program suite and projection of his progress speed had he continued brute-forcing his way through the warmech, taking into account the far-greater number of doors than he had previously calculated.
Let's talk about Malzahar [Analysis, rework suggestion]
Original Link here: https://boards.na.leagueoflegends.com/en/c/gameplay-balance/1syQyMmG-lets-talk-about-malzahar-analysis-rework-suggestion Pre-rework, I played Malz mid and support. I wasn't a main, but he was a regular part of my champ pool, probably top 10. I have rank 4 with him, which would probably be 5 if you counted games before champ mastery was introduced. Since the rework, I no longer enjoy playing Malzahar, and have done so maybe 4-5 times (one mid, one supp, a few aram). tldr Q, E, and R changes were great; P was good but, due to nerfs, no longer working as intended; W is real bad and has such a large role in the kit that it makes the whole thing feel bad, even though everything else was actually really successful. Solution: fix P (longer duration, less dmg reduction), rework W (combination of new and old passive, and you choose where Voidlings spawn). Table of Contents Why Malz needed a rework in the first place: goals and direction Changes that have been made, and whether they were successful Goals for the rework, and to what extent they were achieved Ways to improve the current kit without bringing back the issues with the old one 1. Issues, Goals, and Direction Riot did a good job explaining these, so I'm just going to quote the direction thread: RiotRepertoir (NA) - about a year ago Generally speaking, Malzahar is a relatively low agency champion by virtue of his limited range and mobility. In order for him to succeed as he is on Live, he's balanced around being able to pretty reliably drop a full spell combo on whatever's in front of him and watch them die. We'd like to make it so he doesn't necessarily feel quite so much like a burst champion, but in order to make that happen, we need to give him a bit of breathing room so that it feels like he can comfortably navigate the fast pace game that League of Legends is today. And the patch notes: Malzahar faces a constant dilemma: never use his abilities in lane or push constantly. This playstyle causes Malzahar to be very binary and non interactive; either he has enough AP to drop his spells on a wave and leave lane or he slowly pushes out, leaving him exposed to constant ganks. As well, the nature of his ultimate - cancelable by any CC - makes Malzahar’s power curve binary by necessity: you either stop his channel or somebody dies. In both cases, what Malzahar needs is leeway; a brief window of protection. Adding that window allows us to dial back on Malzahar’s burst and wave clear while giving him more sustained threat in a larger fight. Malz’s actions shouldn’t feel inevitable, but at least he’ll feel less bad about trying to make plays. He’ll still be the consistently damaging Voidling master, but he should feel better about brawling near the frontlines when he brings more sustained cooldowns and a little bit of protection. In summary, Laning vs Malz was boring, since he'd just instaclear the wave. Fighting Malz was unfun; getting 100-0'd while suppressed sucks. but If Malz couldn't do those, he was pretty useless. I'll add: It was/is especially frustrating to have your ult interrupted by the champion you're ulting. ex: You ult draven right as he casts stand aside, immediately canceling your ult. 2. Changes and their impact I've paraphrased for brevity, and left out changes to mana costs, which had more to do with AP itemization changes than Malz's play patterns. Q: Call of the Void Damage down by ~1/4 Silence down by 1/3 Cooldown down by 1/3 E: Space AIDS Malefic Visions Base damage down by 1/3, AP ratio down by 1/8 Damaging a target with Q or R refreshes the duration R: Nether Grasp Creates a null zone under the target, that lasts for 5 seconds Reminder: Suppression lasts for 2.5 seconds Flat damage changed to %HP, dealt in an AOE beneath the target These abilities haven't changed since patch 6.9 (the initial rework). This is a great set of changes. Q & E: The lowered damage means Malz is less bursty and needs to stick around a little in order to clear waves, but the lowered Q cooldown and the E refresh means he can still trade effectively. It also adds a bit of mastery to his kit (managing E's duration), and makes the boring "put E on them and walk away" harass less potent if he misses the (skillshot) Q. The biggest downside is that there's no visual feedback to show the refresh, which may not be confusing to opponents who haven't combed through the tooltips. R: Lower damage means Malz can't 100-0 you while you're suppressed. But, there's a bunch of upsides for Malz, too: - The null zone lasts even if the suppress is interrupted, so your ult isn't 100% useless even if it gets canceled right away. - It also lasts longer than the suppression, so you can keep doing damage if your allies can lock the target down. This lets it stay strong in teamfights and ganks without being stupidly OP in 1v1s. - It's AOE damage based on the target's max hp, so it doesn't feel terrible to ult the enemy frontline. - Playing safe feels better; you no longer feel like you have to dive and ult the enemy carry in order to be effective. Passive: Void Shift Patch 6.9 New passive added. Basically a Banshee's Veil for spells and AAs, that lingers for 1s after it gets popped. Patch 6.10 Cooldown changes that don't matter. Patch 6.15 Cooldown nerf that don't matter. Linger reduced to 0.25s from 1s As much hate as this passive gets, in my opinion the original idea of it was great. Having a second of CC immunity makes your ult so much more reliable, which makes up for your lowered burst. And in teamfights when you don't have your ult, it lets you get in range to hit your E, then back off and hit your Q on the way out to refresh the duration. Old Malz couldn't do that without risking his life, so he just had to poke with Q (and sometimes W). The patch 6.15 nerf threw that idea away, and basically just makes him stronger as a support and harder to catch out. (To be clear, I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with Malz support, but I do think there's something wrong with the play pattern of "try to avoid interacting with the enemy until my passive is up, then win a trade by brute force.") I also recognize that 1 second of basically full immunity from the enemy team is ridiculously OP. However, I'm not convinced that Malz needs 90% damage reduction for the passive to do its job; if Malz lost some damage reduction, he could get back a bit of the passive duration. W: Void Swarm Patch 6.9 Malzahar spawns a Voidling, which lasts for 12 seconds. For the first 8 seconds, he spawns another each time an existing one attacks a champion or large monster, or assists in killing a unit. This can only happen once per Voidling. New voidlings last for whatever's left of the original 12 seconds. When 3+ Voidling are active, they all gain bonus attack speed. Voidlings deal physical damage (scales with AD) and magic damage (scales with AP). Damage is halved vs monsters and tripled vs low hp minions. Voidlings gain bonus ms toward priority targets (marked with †) Attack priority Target of R † Enemies in R's Null Zone † Affected by E (champions first, then minions) † Nearest target Removed: Malzahar's autoattack target Removed: Leash range Patch 6.23 Change to a 2-charge system Voidling health changed to 3 Damage buffed Window of time to spawn additional voidlings down to 3s from 8s Voidling assists no longer spawn more voidlings Removed triple damage to minions below 20% health Added triple damage to minions affected by E Removed bonus attack speed when 3+ Voidlings are active. Voidlings only get bonus MS towards priority targets when they're within 600 units of Malzahar Patch 7.3 New: Voidlings spawn after a 0.35s delay. New: 1s cooldown between casts. New Effect: Past 600 distance, Voidlings move more slowly the farther they are from Malzahar. Oh, boy. This ability right here. This is the problem child. Let's dive in: It reads like a short novel. 102 words on the wiki. I consider myself one of the more knowledgable League players, and I didn't even fully understand it until just now, after spending half an hour re-writing the patch notes. And even now, I doubt I'll remember it all in the heat of the moment, next time I face Malzahar. Complexity makes an ability hard to optimize, and that's a good thing. For example, Ekko's stun creates tons of interesting decisions and outplay moments for both Ekko and his opponents. But you can't even try to optimize an ability that you can't understand. It's frustrating and unsatisfying to use. Playing Malz, sometimes I cast W and suddenly have an army of Voidlings mauling my opponent's face. Other times, my one little voidy dies without getting off a single attack. Either way, I don't feel like I outplayed or was outplayed. Part of this is related to point 1. Now I know it's important for me to have my E on them and to stay within 600 units, but there's no way I'm going to find that out without poring over the tooltip. Does my opponent know to hang back and avoid the Voidling, but only for the first 3 seconds? Let's hope not. It's also related to luck. The ability's damage is quite nearly doubled if the first voidling gets in an AA at 2.9s instead of 3.1s. It just generally sucks to have such a large part of your damage be so far outside your control. It's unduly strong vs melee champions. Particularly in the early game and in the bot lane, it's really hard to make the ability strong vs ranged champs without making it oppressive vs melee, who don't have the choice to throw spells while kiting back. Leona thought she was going to be able to engage during this laning phase? Lol. (I'm definitely not a salty Leona main). Stats Patch 6.14 Movement speed reduced to 335 from 340. Attack range reduced to 500 from 550. No strong feelings about these, particularly since voidlings no longer follow Malz's AAs. They're different balance-wise, but I think either would be acceptable to balance around.
Rework goals: Achieved? In the malzahar direction thread, Repertoir shared some criteria for what a successful rework would look like. Let's do a spot check and see how it's done.
RiotRepertoir (NA) - about a year ago Here's some stuff we're happy with about Malzahar and are unlikely to change: Functions well as a reliable anti-mobility/anti-assassin via Nether Grasp (R). Has really fun/unique farming patterns via Malefic Visions (E). I'm going to give these both a check. Farming with E is still interesting (if slightly harder), and Zed thinks he's gonna dive you at 6? What a dumbassassin. RiotRepertoir (NA) - about a year ago Here's some stuff we're less happy with and are actively trying to resolve: A simple W>E>R is often enough to eliminate or remove enemies, leaving them little opportunity to act outside of not getting into his range. Malzahar is inherently low agency, and is historically balanced in a way that means he forces similarly low agency situations upon opponents. Voidlings are a cool and unique element of the kit that often don't play a large role in his success throughout the game (AD Malz aside). Here, there's less success. E>W>R won't boop someone, but W>E has a similar effect, early game. Malz got some agency with the Q, E, and R changes, but a lot of power was shifted to his Voidlings, over which he doesn't have much control. And while Voidlings certainly play a large role in his success, it's not in a way that feels good to the Malz player. RiotRepertoir (NA) - about a year ago Here's what I hope will be true of Malzahar following his changes: Malzahar's kit will feel familiar to Malzahar players; he has a lot of cool spells/visuals, and we don't want to change that. Malzahar will feel less like a burst caster to everyone. Malzahar will continue to be low range and low mobility, but he will feel less vulnerable. AP Malzahar players will care about using their Voidlings correctly. AD Malzahar will still be a decent option. Malzahar's kit will have clearer signals for how he could have played better and/or how opponents could have played better against it. Playing Malzahar still won't be a mechanically intense/exhausting experience. These were mostly successful. However, there are still many clarity issues around Voidlings (discussed in the previous section) and AD Malz seems to be dead. Maybe it's bad, or maybe it's so similar to AP that there's no reason to pick it; I'm not sure. Malz support box I don't think there's anything inherently bad about Malzahar support. The real questions are: Is Malz support healthy for the game? I don't think so. Voidling strength vs melee champions makes it really hard for melee champions to play League of Legends during laning phase. Q and R are fine abilities in bot lane, but if Malz is ever a strong support because of his E, there's probably something wrong (winning a lane from spamming point and click damage is not a fun thing #pantheon). Can Malz be balanced for both support and mid? If not, which is a better choice to balance around? I think it is possible to balance Malz as a primary mid and a decent-but-niche support, as he was before the rework. His E has a lot more play around it when Malz is farming, but his ult is more interesting in a 2v2 lane. Overall I'd give the edge to mid lane, since you use E a lot more than R. If adc bot is ever not mandatory, Malz bot would probably be the most interesting. Overall, I think it's a problem if Malz support makes Malz mid unviable (as it currently does in pro play), but not vice versa (although if Malz supp is viable, that's great). The verdict: Unfortunately, the one bad part (W) is so central to the new kit that it overshadows an otherwise well-done and successful rework. On the upside, this means a little more work will go a long way: Malz would be a really good candidate for small-scale work (like Shyvana, Alistar, or Amumu).
Looking forward / Rework part II Here's what I would do to fix Malz. I've estimated some numbers to give you an idea what I'm going for, but numbers are really hard to do without playtesting; please don't focus on the specific numbers too much.
Passive: Void Shift Damage reduction reduced to 45% from 90% Linger increased to 0.5s from 0.25s R: Nether Grasp Refreshes passive on cast These changes give Malz a slightly longer window to set up trades in lane, without making it feel pointless to try to poke him down. They also make R much more reliable, so it is... - Easier to balance in a teamfight scenario (where it's often interrupted immediately) vs a 1v1 scenario (where it's seldom interrupted at all). - Less frustrating for Malz, since the ult can no longer be interrupted by its target. The damage reduction nerf is for power, and so the ult isn't effective as a defensive reaction (eg, to a Veigar ult). [Updated] W: Void Portal Malzahar creates an untargetable rift to the void that lasts 30 seconds. On Malzahar's fourth subsequent ability cast, the Rift transforms into a Void Portal, which lasts for 12 seconds. The Portal spawns one Voidling immediately and -- for the first 3 seconds of its lifetime -- spawns another the first time a Voidling attacks a champion or large monster (visually, the Portal collapses after 3 seconds). Voidlings share the Portal's duration. Voidlings cannot walk farther than 500 units from the Portal unless their target is affected by Nether Grasp or Malefic Visions. They gain 100% bonus movement speed within that range but lose 10% per 100 units past it. Range: 800 Cooldown: 20 / 19 / 18 / 17 / 16 E: Malefic Visions [New] Autoattacking a champion or large monster affected by Malefic Visions extends the duration by 1 second (never longer than the initial 4s). Here's the bread and butter of the changes. Voidling spawn, while not actually that much simpler, is now much easier to visualize and understand without studying the tooltip, due to visual effects on Void Rifts / Portals. By forcing Malz to pick a location for Voidlings to spawn from, we balance his effectiveness vs ranged and melee. Although Voidlings tend to be more effective against melee champs, Void Rift placement is more effective against ranged. If you put a rift under the enemy caster minions, it's in position to either waveclear or fight your ranged opponent. If a melee opponent jumps on you, kiting back towards your tower also means kiting away from your Voidlings. Delaying the spawn takes away quite a bit of power, which allows us to add the other buffs. It also provides a window of power to play aggressively vs Malz, particularly for melee champs. The current long cooldown on Voidlings means there's a window where Malz can't really fight you, but he can usually keep a voidling in his back pocket to force you to back off. Now, if he burns his E, you've got a window where Voidlings can't stray far from their portal (unless Malz ults). Now Malz needs to cast his other spells in order to spawn Voidlings; Malz supp doesn't have a mana restore mechanism. This doesn't mean supp is automatically bad; it's just another lever for tweaking his balance between lanes. The boost for autoattacking gives Malz a reason to stay in fighting range of his opponent instead of dropping an E and running away. Also, maybe it lets AD malz can make a comeback. Most importantly, it creates a lot of gameplay for both Malz and his opponent. Say Malz mid has a Void Rift near the enemy caster minions, that's one cast from activation. The enemy laner knows this, and wants to avoid getting E'd and zoned off the wave. They can back off until the rift times out, or they can push the wave, and force Malz to use his spells to clear the wave. Both Malz mid and support have a pattern to maintain constant pressure: create a new void rift on cooldown (every 20 seconds). Cast Q and E to get this rift to 2 charges and spawn a Voidling from the previous one. By the time that voidling times out, E is off cooldown again, so you can spawn the second Voidling with another QE.. or wait 10 seconds until your W is back off cooldown. If that went over your head and you want a visual, here's what I wrote when I was figuring it out for myself, to make sure there'd actually be a time when you could fight Malz. Turns out it's a great pattern for pushing the lane hard, or forcing the enemy botlane to stay back... but in bot it's really mana intensive, and in mid, if your opponent can force a fight, they can mess up your timing and create a window when you've got no Voidlings to fight with. Trade-offs and counterplay! What if it turned out this rework is underpowered/overpowered? Aside from numbers tweaks, if it's overtuned I'd remove the passive refresh on ult, which is nice but not essential. If it's undertuned, I'd make R count as 4 spellcasts (ie, instantly activate any Void Rifts). Closing thoughts Please, leave feedback! Do you play Malz? If so, do these changes sound fun to you? If not, do these changes sound more fun to play against? Remember, no idea is perfect on the first shot; if you like some parts of this but not others, that's good feedback, too!
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